Promise for Panthers
In March 2010, thanks to the hard work of Defenders of Wildlife and government agencies, the Florida panther secured new hope for safe passage across a dangerous highway that runs through Big Cypress National Preserve.
UPDATE: In January 2011, installation of the Roadside Animal Detecting System (RADS) was completed. Read more on our blog: New Year Brings New Technology and Hope for Panthers
New Wildlife Refuge Provides Key Panther Habitat
In January 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced the creation of the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. Nearly 47,000 Defenders activists sent messages to the FWS in support of this proposal. In addition to improving water quality, the proposed conservation area and refuge would protect important habitat for 88 federal and state listed species, including the Florida panther, Florida black bear and whooping crane.
Important Parcel Protected Along the Caloosahatchee River Protected
In May 2012, a multi-year effort involving a complex set of negotiations among agencies, organizations and landowners resulted in the purchase of the American Prime property in the Florida panther dispersal zone, an action Defenders has strongly advocated for.
Planning for I-75 Interchange at Everglades Boulevard Suspended
In 2012, after the Federal Highways Administration and Florida Department of Transportation determined a new interchange on I-75 at Everglades Boulevard in rural eastern Collier County cannot be justified at this time, county officials voted to shelve plans for the project until at least 2021. The interchange has been a top road priority for the county for years, and Defenders, other environmental organizations and natural resource agencies have voiced strong and consistent opposition to the project as it would lead to the destruction of 10,000 acres of panther habitat, sever important wildlife corridors, compromise Everglades restoration in the Picayune Strand, encourage urban sprawl and exacerbate vehicle collisions near the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). We will continue to advocate for protection of panther habitat, wildlife corridors and wetland systems near the proposed interchange to enhance habitat connectivity for Picayune, Florida Panther NWR and North Belle Meade.
In Lee County, Defenders worked to stop the construction of County Road 951 extension, a road that would have cut through panther habitat and resulted in additional deaths from vehicles.
We helped to design a billboard that reminds motorists to slow down in panther country and to create a handout that enforcement officers can provide to motorists pulled over for speeding in a slower speed panther zone.
At Defenders’ urging, in 2011 Florida Governor Rick Scott proclaimed September 18-24 “Watch Out For Wildlife Awareness Week,” to raise awareness of the dangers that people and wildlife encounter on our roadways and promote solutions that increase driver alertness and safe driving practices.
Height: 23-27 inches at the shoulder for males; females are smaller.
Length: 7 feet from nose to tip of tail for males; 6 feet for females.
Weight: males average 130 lbs; females 70-75 lbs.
Lifespan: 10-15 years.