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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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Friday, January 31, 2014

The fragile and at the moment finite 100 Pumas that are confined to the lower southern half of Florida need more room to roam and there should be a USFW rewilding effort to get a breeding pair into the northern part of state as well as into Georgia and surrounding states(Delisting will be considered when: 1. Three viable, self-sustaining populations of at least 240 individuals (adults and subadults) each have been established and subsequently maintained for a minimum of twelve years).........While these plans have been sidetracked and put into a holding plan for years, the Mining Industry(Lime Rock mining for concrete material) wants to excavate close to a 1000 acres in the heart of Puma habitat.............A loophole in land restoration laws allows these miners to walk away from their dig site and not restore the land in any way,,,,,,,,,,,,,leaving an opening for developers of suburban home lots to create an artificial lake at the dig site and then convert even more open space surrounding the lake(pit) into neighborhoods,,,,,,,,,,,,,Where are the Pumas to go???????

Miners blow up panther habitat, then build houses around new 'lakes'

Miners blow up panther habitat, then build houses around new 'lakes'

To get the rock needed for making pavement and concrete,
miners want to dynamite and dig up thousands of acres in Lee
 and Collier counties that's currently habitat for the Florida panther.
When Central Florida's phosphate miners are done digging up
their fertilizer ingredients, they're required to restore the land.
 Not limerock miners. Instead their pit is converted into an
 artificial lake and the property around it subdivided and turned
 into waterfront lots.
That makes the loss of panther habitat permanent.
"That's not the direction
 we want it to head," said
 Laurie Macdonald of
Defenders of Wildlife,
 who sits on the federal
 committee trying to
 figure out how to
 expand a panther
 population currently
 around 100 to 160.

To environmental
groups, the miners'
 suburban developments
are slipping in a back door,
creating sprawl and not
 getting a proper vetting.
"Many of these mines
are located in rural areas
where development may
not be appropriate,"
contended Amber Crooks
of the Conservancy of
Southwest Florida.
Usually the land is
farmland, swamp or forest before the mining begins — places
where development would likely get closer scrutiny for its impact
 on panthers if it weren't a mine first.

In December, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the permit for a 970-acre mine known as the Hogan Island Quarry, in part over the future development of the land.
Federal wildlife officials must review the mining proposals to gauge their impact on the future of the panther, which has been on the endangered species list since 1967. Records reviewed by the Times show the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Corps of Engineers, which issues permits for the loss of wetlands, have done nothing to stop the conversion of mining property to suburban development.
Permit reviewers say they're hampered by a lack of cooperation from some mining firms.
"Some mines will not give us their end plans," said Tori Foster of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "There are constraints on what we're able to ask."
Instead, she said, they have to figure it out from clues in the permit application, such as whether there's any land designated for preservation. If not, she said, "then we consider everything on the property to be impacted" by mining and development.
Tunis McElwain, chief of the corps regulatory section in Fort Myers, says his agency is focused solely on the wetlands. Even if development is slated for thousands of acres of uplands around where the mine would be, it's not something they ask about.
The fact that the rock mines will someday become deep lakes surrounded by new houses is hardly a secret.
"We were very cognizant of that," said Jim Beever, principal planner with the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council.
One Naples-area development on the site of a former mine is even called "The Quarry." Another mine recently approved by wildlife officials is owned by a builder, Lennar Homes, not a mining company. A third, the Hogan Island Quarry, is shown on a consultants' map at a spot labeled "Town Node."
"Development of the land could be the best use for the water and environmental resources there," said Matt Arbuckle, a land manager for Vulcan Materials, the nation's largest producer of rock and gravel for construction and owner of Florida Rock, a longtime miner in Florida.

Other options for the post-mining landscape include turning the mine into a reservoir or converting it into a golf course like the Quarry Course at Black Diamond in Lecanto, he said.
"We work with the regulatory agencies to minimize our impact on the environment as much as possible," he said.
But the main feature left by the mines, the artificial lakes, are no boon to the environment, Beever said. They go too deep to mimic natural Florida lakes and thus lack oxygen to support any aquatic life.
A further complication is that the mines — and the subdivisions that follow — are being built in an area important to recharging the aquifer, Beever pointed out. A Lee County study said there's no need for new mines for decades because the rock supply from existing mines is sufficient.
Nevertheless, a couple of years ago, property owners in Lee and Collier counties applied for a dozen permits for new mines, McElwain said. Florida's mortgage meltdown had left would-be developers unable to build, he explained. As a fallback they wanted to mine that 19,000 acres, figuring they could then develop it in the future.
But when the corps announced it would conduct an analysis of the cumulative impact of all those mines, all but four withdrew their applications, McElwain said. That ended talk of a cumulative study, although the Conservancy says mines totalling 14,000 acres of impacts still await permits.
In their lawsuit over the Hogan Island Quarry, the environmental groups argue the agencies should still try to gauge the cumulative impact. In 2004, a federal judge invalidated a permit for Florida Rock to dig a 6,000-acre mine over the same issue.
"When considered in isolation, most individual projects would impact only small portions of potential panther habitat," U.S. District Judge James Robertson wrote. "However, when multiplied by many projects over a long period of time, the cumulative impact on the panther might be significant."

The Fish and Wildlife Service biologist who reviewed the Florida Rock permit, Andy Eller, had tried to object to it but was overruled by his bosses and fired. Eller was vindicated by an independent scientific review and rehired, but reassigned to another part of the country with no panthers.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Craig Pittman can be reached at or follow him on Twitter @craigtimes.
Miners blow up panther habitat, then build houses around new 'lakes' 01/20/14 [Last modified: Monday, 
January 20, 2014 10:26pm]
U.S.F.W Service plans for Florida Puma Rewilding

The third area of emphasis in Florida panther recovery is to establish two
additional populations within the historic range of the panther (FWS 1987, FWS
1995). Population establishment involves site selection and use of surrogate
FLORIDA PANTHER Multi-Species Recovery Plan for South Florida
Page 4-133

One of two plans for population re-establishment discussed by Belden and
McCown (1996) involves the release of four to five wild-caught female Florida
panthers into a select area. Once they established home ranges a captive-raised
male would be introduced only long enough to breed the females. This plan has
the advantages of requiring fewer panthers from the South Florida population
and of allowing more control over where re-establishment occurs. Wild-caught
females with kittens could also be used.

Studies have concluded that Florida panther reintroduction is biologically
feasible (Belden and Hagedorn 1993, Belden and McCown 1996). Habitat and
prey available in north Florida and south Georgia are sufficient to support a
viable panther population. However, complex social issues must be addressed
prior to population reestablishment (Belden and McCown 1996). A study is
currently underway to identify these issues and ways to manage them

The recovery strategy for the Florida panther is to maintain, restore, and expand the pantherpopulation and its habitat in south Florida, expand this population into south-central Florida,reintroduce at least two additional viable populations within the historic range outside of southand south-central Florida, and facilitate panther recovery through public awareness andeducation. The panther depends upon habitat of sufficient quantity, quality, and spatialconfiguration for long-term persistence, therefore the plan is built upon habitat conservation andreducing habitat-related threats. Range expansion and reintroduction of additional populationsare recognized as essential for recovery. Similarly, fostering greater public understanding andsupport is necessary to achieve panther conservation and recovery.

Recovery Goal
The goal of this recovery plan is to achieve long-term viability of the Florida panther to a pointwhere it can be reclassified from endangered to threatened, and then removed from the Federal
Recovery Objectives
1. To maintain, restore, and expand the panther population and its habitat in south Florida andexpand the breeding portion of the population in south Florida to areas north of theCaloosahatchee River.

2. To identify, secure, maintain, and restore panther habitat in potential reintroduction areaswithin the historic range, and to establish viable populations of the panther outside south andsouth-central Florida.
3. To facilitate panther recovery through public awareness and education.

Recovery Criteria

Reclassification will be considered when:

1. Two viable populations of at least 240 individuals (adults and subadults) each have beenestablished and subsequently maintained for a minimum of twelve years (two panthergenerations; one panther generation is six years [Seal and Lacy 1989]).

2. Sufficient habitat quality, quantity, and spatial configuration to support these populations isretained / protected or secured for the long-term.A viable population, for purposes of Florida panther recovery, has been defined as one in which
there is a 95% probability of persistence for 100 years. This population may be distributed in ametapopulation structure composed of subpopulations that total 240 individuals. There must beexchange of individuals and gene flow among subpopulations. For reclassification, exchange ofindividuals and gene flow can be either natural or through management. If managed, a commitment to such management must be formally documented and funded. Habitat should bein relatively unfragmented blocks that provide for food, shelter, and characteristic movements
(e.g., hunting, breeding, dispersal, and territorial behavior) and support each metapopulation at aminimum density of 2 to 5 animals per 100 square miles (259 square kilometers) (Seidenstickeret al. 1973, Logan et al. 1986, Maehr et al. 1991a, Ross and Jalkotzy 1992, Spreadbury et al.1996, Logan and Sweanor 2001, Kautz et al. 2006), resulting in a minimum of 4,800 – 12,000square miles (12,432 – 31,080 square kilometers) per metapopulation of 240 panthers. 

The amount of area needed to support each metapopulation will depend upon the quality of available habitat and the density of panthers it can support.

Delisting will be considered when:

1. Three viable, self-sustaining populations of at least 240 individuals (adults and subadults)

each have been established and subsequently maintained for a minimum of twelve years.

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