Defenders in the Southeast
- Defenders’ Florida program led conservation groups in a 12-year campaign to establish a sound Threatened Species Rule for Florida that follows a scientifically based listing process and requires adoptionof statewide species management plans.
- In 1994 Defenders’ launched the Florida program as the Habitat for Bears Campaign to mobilize conservation efforts to protect the threatened Florida black bear and its natural community. Since then, we have continued to be a leader in working to recover the species, including advocating for preserving core and corridor habitat, lobbying for the first Florida Wildlife Commission Black Bear Coordinator, supporting research funding and more. Our efforts have made a major contribution to bear recovery -- the Florida black bear is slated to be removed from the state list of threatened species in 2012.
- In 1998, we successfully lobbied for adoption of a Conserve Wildlife license plate to fund bear and other nongame wildlife programs by the Florida Wildlife Commission.
- We have helped secure reauthorization by the state legislature of Florida Forever, the state land acquisition program, which for many years was the largest land acquisition program in the United States. As part of the Florida Forever Steering Committee, we mobilize citizen action and lobbying in the state legislature.
- Our work has helped improve a number of transportation projects: Turner River Roadside Animal Detection System project, Keri Road nighttime panther slow speed zone, Wekiva Parkway and Wekiva Basin transportation projects and Florida’s SR 40.
- Our coexistence and outreach programs have reached thousands of citizens and visitors with information about living with wildlife—in particular panthers and bears—through neighborhood canvassing, initiating and coordinating state festivals, presentations, publications, media, and partnering with the government, non-government, and private sectors.
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