Defenders In the News
Florida panthers numbered as few as five and as many as 20 by best guess nearly 50 years ago. After a 48-year-old ban on hunting the big cats, their population is estimated to be least 180 adults in the wild. Florida’s iconic official state animal is at a crossroad in its survival. Federal authorities have a plan to guide the Florida panthers’ recovery, which includes establishing at least two more separate populations of 240 adults outside of South Florida.
Senator Dianne Feinstein is drummed up support for three proposed national monuments in the southern California desert by holding a public listening session at the Whitewater Preserve near Palm Springs on Tuesday. She introduced a bill earlier this year, the California Desert Conservation and Recreation Act of 2015, that would, among other things, create the Sand to Snow and Mojave Trails National Monuments in areas that are home to the endangered desert bighorn sheep and the threatened desert tortoise.
Defenders of Wildlife has hired an experienced conservationist and longtime Tar Heel to open a new office in Asheville, N.C. As Southeast program director, Ben Prater will be responsible for working to conserve priority imperiled wildlife including red wolves, Florida panthers, manatees, freshwater mussels, freshwater fish, amphibians, whales and migratory shorebirds, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service violated the Endangered Species Act twice in the past two years when it gave private landowners permission to kill endangered red wolves near the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern North Carolina, conservationists said Tuesday in a letter to the agency.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she has asked President Obama to bypass Congress and create three new national monuments in California, giving federal protection to more than 1 million acres of mountain ranges, sandy expanses and forests lying roughly between Palm Springs and the Nevada border.
On a Northern California hiking trail near the Cascades’ Mount Shasta, two all-black adult wolves and five 4-month-old pups have been captured on film. It’s the first time in modern history that a gray wolf pack has been seen in the state since its population was hunted to extinction nearly a century ago.
Since 2008, the Wood River Wolf Project has used nonlethal predator deterrents to maintain a much lower rate of depredation on sheep in the Big Wood River drainage than occurs elsewhere, as well as to keep wolves alive.
The Florida wildlife commissioner who pushed to loosen the state's official panther policy is also part of a group seeking a federal permit to kill a certain number of panthers if they get in the way of plans for their land.
By 1924, wolves in California had been completely driven from the lands that they called home for centuries – hunted, trapped and slaughtered to near-extinction. Now it looks like wolves are finally making their way back home to the Golden State where they belong. California is graced with rich areas of suitable habitat that can and will support a healthy wolf population, and wolves clearly want to return.
State wildlife officials said Monday they believe a gray wolf has been roaming the wilds of Northern California. The Department of Fish and Wildlife said one of several cameras set up in Siskiyou County captured an image in May of what may have been a wolf but that DNA testing on feces collected in the area was inconclusive. Official set up remote trail cameras after receiving reports earlier this year of a large, dark-colored canid, an animal from the family that includes wolves, foxes, coyotes, jackals and dogs.