Environmental groups praise Gov. DeSantis, Cabinet for voting to buy panther habitat

Environmental groups praise Gov. DeSantis, Cabinet for voting to buy panther habitat

The Florida panther kittens will live in captivity at White Oak Conservation Center. Fort Myers News-Press Environmental groups across the region are celebrating one day after Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet voted to purchase more than 10,000 acres of prime panther habitat in Devil’s Garden. In total, the state agreed to spend about $79 million on several pieces of land throughout the state. Although the land is in Hendry County, it’s important to Collier and Lee because the parcel provides prime habitat for the endangered Florida panther. “It will help with the conservation goal of connecting habitat from Big Cypress National Preserve to Hendry County,” said Meredith Budd, with the Florida Wildlife Federation. “It allows for expansive habitat for a wide-range species like the panther to cross the Caloosahatchee River.” A male Florida panther trips a motion sensor camera trap set up by News-Press photographer Andrew West at Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed in mid-January 2020. (Photo: Andrew West/The USA Today Network, The News-Press) Kent Wimmer, with Defenders of Wildlife, said Thursday was one of the best days in Florida preservation history. “(Devil’s Garden) has been targeted for a long time,” Wimmer said. “All the projects the governor and Cabinet approved are great. The combination of all these projects at the same time is probably one of the best days for conservation in years.” Well south of the Caloosahatchee River, Devil’s Garden is north of Big Cypress National Preserve and east of Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest. The name Devil’s Garden stems from the Seminole Wars of the 1800s, according to various history books and online accounts. More: Why are Florida panthers, bobcats getting sick? Grant will help scientists understand mysterious ailment It was occupied by an indigenous leader who went by the English name of Sam Jones. He […]

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