Monday, May 10, 2021

Press Release: Turkey Hunting in the Panther Refuge?


May 10, 2021 

Contacts: Diana Umpierre,, 954-829-7632



Crazy Math Doesn’t Add Up


NAPLES—Tomorrow, on May 11, 2021, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will hold a virtual meeting from 6-9 pm, on their “Proposed Visitor Services Plan including Proposed Hunt and Fish Opportunities” on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.  The idea includes opening the panther refuge, the only land truly dedicated to keeping the Florida panther from complete extinction, to wild turkey hunting with crossbows and shotguns.  On May 4, the US Department of the Interior announced that this plan is a part of its promotion of public access to public lands.


“You don’t need a Ph.D. in mathematics or accounting to see that this is gold-plated nonsense,” stated Diana Umpierre, Sierra Club Organizing Representative. “There may be up to 230, but could be as low as 120 adult Florida panthers left in Florida.  Millions of dollars have been spent in an attempt to keep those panthers alive over the past few decades and the Service is proposing to spend a net $15,500 a year so that hunters can bag 70 turkeys?  That’s FWS spending $220 per turkey from funds that should go to managing the Refuge.


Rhonda Roff, Sierra Club Calusa Group Executive Committee member, said:  “If the Service has enough money to squander on giving hunters access to kill 70 turkeys, then let them do it elsewhere.  The panther does not need another threat to its existence, especially not in its own refuge.”


The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge Draft Visitor Services Plan and Environmental Assessment (Assessment) which includes APPENDIX A:  Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge Turkey Hunting and Sport Fishing Plan, speaks for itself:




Page 154 of the Assessment (page 8 of the proposed hunting plan): 

“The vast majority of Florida Panther NWR’s 26,609 acres would be open for turkey hunting during permitted hunts. We specifically propose to annually open 25,560 acres of the refuge.”   


“Three hunt weekends (2 limited/quota hunts and 1 limited family hunt weekend) are proposed. A Family Quota Permit is defined by FWC as a type of limited entry permit required for an adult and up to two youths age 8 to 15 to participate. The following information provides further details on specific information regarding these permits. The maximum number of quota permits that would be issued annually would not exceed 50 individual quota permits and 10 family permits consisting of 2 permits per family. However, Florida Panther NWR would monitor the turkey population and hunter access to allow for adaptive management in the number of permits issued annually. The bag limit would be one bearded turkey per hunt permit.”   


Page 159  of the Assessment (page 14 of the proposed hunting plan):



Expenses for conducting annual hunts would be borne through general refuge funds. The costs would include personnel costs to facilitate hunts, annual management planning and turkey monitoring, additional law enforcement patrols, early gate opening and closure, maintenance of boundary posting and gates, installing and maintaining information panels, posting and removing signs, preparing the hunt brochure, maintaining roads, and covering all related fuel costs. These annual costs are estimated to run about $17,500. This costs estimate does not cover the cost of habitat management such as prescribed fire and invasive species management. Fees from turkey hunting may annually average an estimated $2,000; they could be higher, dependent upon permit costs and quota levels. Though this revenue amount is insufficient to cover the cost of managing the hunt program, the relatively low cost of this program can easily be covered using station funds. Some additional costs may be defrayed by cooperating with partners; for example, FWC may provide Game Wardens for law enforcement patrols during hunts.

Table 9. Funding and Staffing Requirements for hunting Identifier 

Cost Staff (Maintenance Workers, Biologist, and Refuge Managers) $6,000 

Maintain roads, parking lots, trails*  $3,000 

News releases, fact sheets, and reports  $500 

Maintain signage $2,000 

Law Enforcement $6,000 

Total Annual Cost $17,500


*Refuge trails and roads are maintained for a variety of activities. Costs shown are a percentage of total costs for trail/road maintenance on the refuge and are reflective of the percentage of trail/road use for hunting and fishing. Volunteers account for some maintenance hours and help to reduce overall cost of the program.”



Female Florida Panther with Kittens on Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Credit: David Shindle, US Fish and Wildlife Service