Renewed hope for Florida panthers in the wild?

Fox-4 News reports on a coalition of environmental groups working together to buy land and create a corridor through which the panthers can roam, north to south, near Immokalee: 

FORT MYERS, Fla.-  The Florida panther looks a lot more secure.

The big cats have been dwindling in numbers and showing genetic deformities because of in-breeding.
But a critical piece of property has opened up- allowing the cats to travel across the state, letting the predators roam and mingle with their own kind.
It almost didn't happen… just one day before it was to go on the auction block last year… this one essential piece of property-  just east of Labelle – was snapped up by a coalition of nine different government agencies and private organizations.
And now… biologists believe the Florida panther actually has a future.
The florida panther can run fast… but it just doesn't have anywhere to go…  trapped by developments and dangerous roads.
But a critical piece of property along the Caloosahatchee recently became available.
This land north of state road 80, which was supposed to be yet another gated community, went into foreclosure and biologists knew that it was a special place for the cats.
Erin myers is a biologist for US Fish and Wildlife.  She says "We have three males cats that we have GPS points on that have crossed exactly here on this river."
THe cat population starts in the Everglades.  they are able to hop from a trail of conservation property to cattle ranches to this property on the river… where its the most narrow and shallow… and the land across it is undeveloped too.
Wendy Mathews is with the Nature Conservancy.  She explained that "its the bottleneck for the florida panther moving from its territory south of the Caloosahatchee River into areas north of the Caloosahatchee."
And with this key connection, it means the cats can roam and breed with other cat populations- ensuring the species survival.
But first,  nine different federal, state and county agencies … and even a private rancher … worked together to raise the 6.6 million dollars to purchase the property.
Mathews said "it was nailbiting.!"  they acquired the property just one day before it was to go on the auction block.

Read more, see the Fox-4 video here


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