Endangered Florida panthers must be relocated to be saved, say feds
South Florida has run out of room for its 80-odd endangered panthers, says the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the best way to save the species is to move some of them to other spots in the region. In its official panther recovery report, released this week, the agency recommends creating two additional panther populations in states such as Arkansas and Georgia. (Arkansas has already said no thanks.) The FWS removed a section of the report that critiqued the weakness of current rules to protect panther habitat, and it doesn’t plan to alter current land-management practices. Federal panther expert Andy Eller says the FWS itself is a major reason Florida panthers are on the brink. Eller blew the whistle on the agency two years ago for intentionally using flawed scientific data to allow overdevelopment in crucial panther habitat, saying officials didn’t want to irk powerful political contributors by blocking their building permits.