FWS revises recovery plan for Florida panther
73 Fed. Reg. 77052 / Vol. 73, No. 244 / Thursday, December 18, 2008 / DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR; Fish and Wildlife Service; Notice of Availability of the Florida Panther Recovery Plan
SUMMARY: We, the Fish and Wildlife Service, announce the availability of the third revision of the Florida Panther Recovery Plan. The plan includes specific recovery objectives and criteria to be met in order to reclassify the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) to threatened status and eventually delist this species under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). Available online from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and its Vero Beach office, or try to link directly to the pdf document here.
Panthers are wide ranging, secretive, and occur at low densities. They require large contiguous areas to meet their social, reproductive, and energetic needs. Panther habitat selection is related to prey availability (i.e., habitats that make prey vulnerable to stalking and capturing are selected). Dense understory vegetation provides some of the most important feeding, resting, and denning cover for panthers... Limiting factors for the Florida panther are habitat availability, prey availability, and lack of human tolerance. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation is the greatest threat to panther survival, while lack of human tolerance threatens panther recovery. Panther mortality due to collisions with vehicles threatens potential population expansion. Caption information from Third Revised Recovery Plan, and photo from FWS Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Interim Recovery Goal
Due to the challenging nature of attaining the recovery criteria, an interim recovery goal has been established to assist in determining progress towards the ultimate goals of reclassification and delisting. This interim goal is to achieve and maintain a minimum of 80 individuals (adults and subadults) in each of two reintroduction areas within the historic range and to maintain, restore, and expand the south / south-central Florida subpopulation. The interim goal will be met when:
1. The south / south-central Florida panther subpopulation has been maintained, restored, and expanded beyond 80 to 100 individuals (adults and subadults).
2. Two subpopulations with a minimum of 80 individuals each have been established and maintained within the historic range.
3. Sufficient habitat quality, quantity, and spatial configuration to support these three subpopulations is retained / protected or secured for the long-term. There must be exchange of individuals and gene flow among these subpopulations. This exchange of individuals and gene flow can be either natural or through management.
1. Maintain, restore, and expand the panther population and its habitat in south Florida.
2. Expand the breeding portion of the population in south Florida to areas north of the Caloosahatchee River.
3. Identify potential reintroduction areas within the historic range of the panther.
4. Reestablish viable panther populations outside of south and south-central Florida within the historic range.
5. Secure, maintain, and restore habitat in reintroduction areas.
6. Facilitate panther conservation and recovery through public awareness and education.