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Working Lands for Florida Panther Conservation


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has targeted restoration and enhancement of Florida panther habitat on more than 5,000 acres of agricultural lands in northeastern Collier county and southwestern Hendry county.  The Commission is collaborating with ranchers to expand the habitat and range for Florida panther populations.  The project will connect the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Okaloachoochee Slough State Forest.

The Florida panther is the only breeding population of panther in the eastern United States. The area is under intense pressure for conversion to housing and other developed uses. Approximately 29 percent of the area is under private ownership and includes working ranchlands that are critical for panther recovery efforts. As the Florida panther’s range expands and population density grows, depredation of commercial cattle increases.

Financial incentives from NRCS and partners help ranchers improve habitat on their lands for the endangered species and compensates ranchers for panther depredation, making conserving Florida panthers more compatible with working cattle ranches. Properly managed panther habitat on rangelands also benefit other listed and candidate species such as the Florida scrub jay, Florida bonneted bat, indigo snake, gopher tortoise, Audubon’s crested caracara, and wood storks. The project runs from 2016 through 2021. 

Working Lands for Florida Panther Conservation

Partners

Florida Cattlemen’s Association
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Science
Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge 
US Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program 
Farm Service Agency Livestock Indemnity Program 
Defenders of Wildlife 

Conservancy of Southwest Florida