Several entities ranging from government agencies to non-government organizations to private and corporate donors all teamed up to purchase the American Prime property that provides panthers a dispersal zone from south to central Florida and beyond.
Prior to the economic downturn, the parcel was slated to become a new subdivision. Once the owners had to sell, preserving this panther corridor became an important priority as it is still in a relatively natural state while other lands along the river are developed. Without this linkage panthers would have no crossing point to travel north.
“We have supported efforts to protect and restore this land for years so that panthers can expand their range,” said Laurie Macdonald, Florida programs director. “And since a mother panther with kittens was recently documented just south of this area – north of where females have been confirmed in the last 30 years – I am feeling optimistic.”
The panther family was caught on film by a trail camera north of the new nighttime slow speed zone Defenders helped champion to protect panthers in Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest (link to press release http://www.defenders.org/press-release/new-slow-speed-nighttime-panther-zone-help-reduce-wildlife-vehicle-collisions-keri and blog http://www.defendersblog.org/2011/12/florida-panther-sighting-heralds-slow-zone-designation).
“We are pleased that the dedicated effort by many organizations and individuals, particularly the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resource Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Wildlife Refuge Association, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Walmart, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private donors, has finally secured this crucial habitat corridor,” stated Macdonald. “Defenders will continue to work with partners in south Florida and other parts of the state to improve safe passage through habitat protection as well as road improvements like wildlife crossings, roadside sensors and speed zones for wide ranging species such as panthers and bears, as well as motorists.”
Photo, caption and credit: http://www.fl.nrcs.usda.gov/news/images/Panther_dark_large.jpg