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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Over the past two weeks, we have been discussing the strategies that must be implemented to ensure the long term persistence of the 100-160 Florida Panthers(Mountain LIons/Pumas/Cougars-all the same animal) that currently reside in the southern part of the state, south of Tampa,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,It is outstanding news that somehow one of the Panthers traversed the busy highway system that has kept this species penned in and made it north of Tampa to the Green Swamp, where significant habitat exists with a plentiful prey base of deer................Proposition 1 is a statewide referendum that voters will decide on come November..............If passed, Amendment 1 would put a third of the money the state collects on documentary taxes on real estate transactions into the trust for use in a variety of environmental preservation purposes, the most visible of which is the Florida Forever program(land acquisition)...............Land could be purchased for safe haven corridors north and west with wildlife culverts installed to allow for the Cats"safe harbor" passage ....................We also need two more populations of Panther established elsewhere in the southeast with connective corridors to ensure optimum gene admixing and to prevent inbreeding defects from occurring............Another infusion of Pumas from Texas into Georgia and the northern part of Florida would be the answer to expanding the current genetic paradigm that exists in the only eastern state to harbor Pumas.............Lets change that over the next decade,,,,,,,,,,,If the "cats" can live in the 4th most populated state as well as still make a living in the Greater Los Angeles area, they can once again roam the Appalachian spine up to Canada................Up to us to make this a reality!

Link to the story:

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arrival a sign of progress

The recent discovery of a Florida panther track in the
 Green Swamp is an encouraging sign for the species
 and another reminder of the need to establish a
 wildlife corridor linking one end of the state to the other.

It also underscores the need for voters to support
Amendment 1, which would ensure adequate land
 conservation in rapidly developing Florida.
As the Tribune’s Keith Morelli reports, it’s been decades
 since a Florida panther track was spotted this far north in
 Florida. The rare panther was near extinction in the 1970s
 and is making a slow but steady comeback thanks to
efforts dedicated to their survival.
Fewer than 20 panthers were in the wild 40 years ago.
Today, as many as 160 are thought to be roaming across
Southwest Florida. Experts think male panthers may be
moving north up the state as they look for suitable habitat.
Sightings have been reported as far north as Lake Wales
in southeastern Polk County. But not until this recent
 discovery by a retired state wildlife officer has one
been placed as far north as the 870-square-mile Green
 Swamp. The tracks were found north of Polk City.
 Panthers live off deer, which are plentiful in the
 Green Swamp.

But to get there the panther had to traverse major
 highways, risking a fate that has claimed too many
panthers as the state absorbs its relentless population
The idea for a wildlife corridor gained statewide attention
 two years ago when Tampa photographer Carlton Ward
 led an expedition from the Everglades to the Georgia
 border to emphasize the importance of linking wildlife
 habitat along the center of the state. The idea is to
preserve the areas where wildlife can thrive in the wild
 without having to encounter highways or subdivisions.
But that will take a commitment from the state to
 identify and purchase lands critical to the survival of
Florida’s native wildlife and an agreement with private
 landowners not to encroach on habitat.

The recession brought to a virtual standstill the state’s
 land preservation programs, particularly Florida Forever
, which could be essential to creating a wildlife corridor.
This year, voters will have a say in whether to establish a
benchmark for how much money the state dedicates to a
 trust that is used to pay the bonds for environmental
 land purchases. If passed, Amendment 1 on the
 November ballot would put a third of the money the
 state collects on documentary taxes on real estate
 transactions into the trust for use in a variety of
 environmental preservation purposes, the most
visible of which is the Florida Forever program.

Under current law, the documentary taxes are
available for that program but are subject to being
 diverted when the state faces tough budget times.
It is remarkable, and gratifying, that in the nation’s
 fourth-largest state, a panther could still make it to the
Green Swamp — not far from the bustle of Tampa and
Orlando. To ensure the state continues to offer such
wonders even as it grows and prospers, Floridians should
 embrace the corridor idea, and get behind Amendment 1.


Anonymous said...

Luckily, though, it may very well NOT be up to us! Cougar re-colonization in the Eastern U. S. is happening even despite human resistance from state wildlife agencies(who'd rather not have to use funds in this species' recovery--not too mention get embroiled in introducing a large carnivore where it had been previously extirpated!), and panicky locals dead-set against the notion! Apparently, as long as there are plenty of deer and other game, and sufficient habitat, it WILL happen--human assisted or not! At least I believe(and fervently hope so) this! Let's look at some other incidents(which you are probably aware of, of course....). What about the cougar that was shot by a deer hunter in mid-state Georgia a few years back? They thought at first it was an escaped/released captive, but DNA tests proved it was from the Florida Panther population--another cat that got through the Florida gauntlet, and ALMOST made it to the southern end of the Appalachians(certainly IDEAL Eastern Cougar habitat/range!) Then there was the cougar hit and killed by an SUV in Conneticut a coupla years back. Again, people assumed it was an escaped captive, but ended up(DNA tested again) from the South Dakota population! Those are CONFIRMED incidents at both ends of the Appalachians--what about the very likely possibility of some of these incredibly elusive, far-ranging animals that haven't gotten shot or hit by cars? Even in areas where they are common, they are rarely seen. I have heard "unofficial" but acknowledged ranger confirmation that a few individuals are ALREADY in the Great Smokies National Park, and think it very likely--whether from natural re-colonization, or surviving escaped/released captives, of which there are far more than most people realize..... And CAN survive in the wild, given the right place and opportunity! Like that cougar kitten hit by a car in Kentucky in the 1990's(the driver who turned it in said it was one of 3 kittens following a large cougar crossing the road at night--he hit the tail end one accidentally)--DNA tests on it seemed to indicate it was at least partially descended from cougars from South America! And this likely means an escaped or released captive, as many cougars from the exotic pet trade are from South American bloodlines. Regardless--though I'd be thrilled if programs went ahead and helped speed up and secure the process, I think it WILL happen, whether some people/organizations like it or not! Yee-ha!.....L.B.

Rick Meril said...

Hi L.B.

Hope you are right ,,,,but an occasional sighting does not mean a breeding population..............some form augmentation is required most likely,