The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently suspended a plan to remove a panther that targeted animals at the Imaqali Ranch following protests by environmental groups.

In a letter submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Southwest Florida Conservation Service and the Sierra Club on March 1, they said removing an adult male panther from the wild would only increase the species ’vulnerability, especially if seven panthers are already lost. vehicle strikes only in 2022. Although the Panther FP260 killed cattle from a nearby ranch, Southwest Florida Conservation Service officials say removing it from the wild would be illegal because it does not pose a threat to human safety.

“They are in critical danger, and we need each individual panther to remain in the wild,” said Amber Crookes, environmental policy manager for the Southwest Florida Conservation Service. “Once a panther is removed, the population becomes more genetically dangerous. And we have not seen any scientific or legal justification for removing this panther based on these robberies … this whole situation is very new, we have not seen it before. That’s why it sets such a dangerous precedent. “

There are several programs that give breeders money for a slaughtered animal, but the loss of calves, among other animals, by panthers still affects their livelihoods.

“Those people who don’t want to remove it: let me just come and pick $ 900 out of your pocket every day,” said Immokalee ranch owner Jack Johnson. “It becomes more important when it’s your money.”

“One of the things we told the agency … it’s very clear in the public records, at least in the public records we have access to, that experts don’t see that this panther meets the qualifications, the law and the instructions to remove it from the wild. because of the robbery, ”Crooks said.

Although plans to remove the panther have been suspended, Southwest Florida Conservation Service officials say they still have concerns and have asked to meet with the FWC and FWS as soon as possible.

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