There's not much time left to weigh in on the possible delisting of the Florida panther

After 40 years of conservation efforts — and despite a population barely numbering in the hundreds — feds are considering lifting protections for the big cats.

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There's not much time left to weigh in on the possible delisting of the Florida panther
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

In case you're wondering whether or not it's absurd that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could potentially downgrade or eliminate the protected status of the Florida panther, consider the following:

For every human living in Florida, there are 0.00001117 Florida panthers in existence.

Florida's population grows to roughly 20.6 million and the Florida panther population has dwindled to about 230, mostly due to habitat destruction, what with our tendency to drain and mangle the landscape to make way for another Pizza Hut or whatever excites exurbia these days.

Environmentalists and animal welfare advocates say there is absolutely no scientific basis for the proposed de-listing of Florida's official state animal.

The Florida Panther was first federally protected as an endangered subspecies via the Department of the Interior in 1967, well before President Richard Nixon signed the Endangered Species Act (the Florida panther was given protection in 1973).

Kate McFall of The Humane Society of the United State's Florida leg noted how the number of panthers killed by speeding cars grows every years, and how southwest Florida, their last population center, is the site of aggressive development.

"Panthers are particularly vulnerable to human threats due to their already-low numbers and because they require large ranges," McFall wrote in a July 20 op-ed in the Bradenton Herald. "Biologists know that the leading cause of species extinction around the world is habitat loss and human persecution. With developers encroaching more dramatically in southwest Florida, the panthers need the protection the Endangered Species Act provides more than ever."

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials looked into making it OK to "take" (read: kill) panthers that encroached on human territory (as if the inverse weren't the problem).

The feds are currently accepting public comment, but the window for weighing in closes Tuesday, August 29.

Here's how to weigh in:

▪ Regular mail: South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 12085 State Road 29 S, Immokalee, FL 34142

▪ Email: [email protected]

▪ Fax: 772-562–4288

So, you know, get to it.

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