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Florida Panther and MCORES (giveaway!)

The SFWA put out a call to action to speak at the Wednesday 5pm MCORES webinar, where the subject will solely be about the impact this road will have on the Florida Panther!

Without a doubt, these roads would make the panther extinct....they cut through it's last remaining habitat for the purpose of bringing urban development to the area. I've copied the SFWA newsletter below, containing further reading! (I also highly suggest signing up for the No Roads To Ruin Coalition, to get weekly updates on these roads and find even more ways to help)

Since this is a very important meeting, I've decided to do a giveaway to encourage

participation! Three people who comment at the webinar Wednesday and three people who submit a comment to MCORES through email by 11pm Wednesday will receive an exclusive postcard of my Florida Panther Relationships painting (it's not in my shop and never will be) and one person will receive the original 5x7" watercolor study of a Florida Panther!! (pictured here)

Rules to enter gieaway:

1- Comment something (save it don't pave it!) on this post, on my Instagram post, Facebook post, or EMAIL me so that I can contact you if you've won

2- Email your comment to MCORES no later than 11pm Wednesday, the 23rd


3- Comment at the 5 pm zoom webinar on Wednesday the 23rd to do this you must register for the webinar AND register to comment. Both can be done here:

Everyone gets ONE entree, even if you send an email AND comment on the webinar

(I feel like this is more fair since some can't attend the webinar on account of work). Thank you in advance! SAVE IT DON'T PAVE IT

South Florida Wildlands Association Newsletter call to action:

Dear Friends,It's a been a long wait, but on Wednesday, September 23rd, the M-CORES highway project will finally consider the impacts the new highway will have on the Florida panther.  The discussion takes place from 11 AM to 12:30 PM during the regular Southwest-Central Florida Task Force Meeting #8.  This is an online ZOOM meeting.  You can register to attend at THIS LINK.  Note - public comments will be taken by the Task Force at 5 PM and you must complete a separate registration to speak by 4 PM.  The complete meeting agenda is HERE.

This issue has been a major concern for South Florida Wildlands ever since Governor DeSantis signed the legislation authorizing M-CORES in May of 2019.What's at stake here for the future of the Florida panther?  Lots.

Even before the project was approved, John Wrublik, a wildlife biologist who works on transportation issues at the Vero Beach office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), expressed deep concerns to other FWS staff.  His memo was picked up in a Freedom of Information Act request to the service by South Florida Wildlands.  According to Wrublik:

“This  project would have very serious impacts on the Florida panther (basically a disaster for the panther as it goes through, and would open up for more development, some of the best and last remaining habitat for the panther) as well as other fish and wildlife resources and the environment."

What makes this potential habitat loss so disastrous for Florida's panthers is that there is so little left. Once ranging across the entire Southeast U.S. and the whole of the Florida peninsula, the panther is now largely relegated to a tiny fragment of its original habitat, a mix of public and private lands in three rapidly-growing counties of Southwest Florida - Collier, Lee, and Hendry.  According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, there are approximately 120 to 230 panthers remaining.  Of the 18 panthers known to have died so far in 2020, 15 were the result of vehicle collision.  And all of those incidents took place in Collier, Lee, and Hendry Counties.  Unfortunately, a typical year for a big cat living in the midst of ever-growing suburbia.

And although Senator Bill Galvano, the chief architect of the M-CORES legislation, has called Wrublik's claim "overstated," years of panther science completely supports Wrublik's contention:

"Because there is less panther habitat remaining than previously thought, we recommend that all remaining breeding habitat in south Florida should be maintained, and the current panther range should be expanded into south-central Florida. This model should be useful for evaluating the impacts of future development projects, in prioritizing areas for panther conservation..."

Frakes, et al, July 29, 2015

"The Primary, Dispersal, and Secondary zones comprise essential components of a landscape-scale conservation plan for the protection of a viable Florida panther population in south Florida. Assessments of potential impacts of developments should strive to achieve no net loss of landscape function or carrying capacity for panthers within the Primary Zone or throughout the present range of the Florida panther."

Kautz, et al, February 3, 2006

Note that the M-CORES project would also run through or near the "Habitat Conservation Plan " that the FWS is now considering for Eastern Collier County landowners.  That plan would authorize construction of 45,000 additional acres of dense development for that same tiny fragment of land that is the panther's core habitat.  While underpasses can be built for a highway traveling through wild areas, the entire point of M-CORES according to its backers is to facilitate growth.  That means new roads, less habitat, less prey, more vehicles, and more panther deaths due to roadkill.  An unacceptable situation for the Florida panther - and one that will likely lead to this beloved cat's eventual extinction.Please attend the Wednesday meeting if you can.  And you can also help our efforts by donating to this little organization.  South Florida Wildlands has been aggressively protecting wildlife and habitat in the Greater Everglades since 2010.  We carry out this work on a shoestring.  Donations in any amount are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law - and are greatly appreciated. 

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