The numbers of the Florida panther, a subspecies of puma, are already dwindling and it is believed that just 200 of the animals remain in the wild. Now the species might soon go extinct if a large development project proposed for the state goes through.
Up to 45,000 acres of rural Collier county in south-west Florida are earmarked for housing and commercial development under the plan drawn up by a coalition of 11 major Florida landowners, as well as new sand and gravel mines.
But almost half of the proposed area of construction falls within what US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) scientists recognize as “primary zone” for dwindling numbers of the Florida panther. The FWS says preservation of the entirety of the big cats’ hunting and roaming zone, which incorporates about 20,000 acres of the Collier development, is “essential for the survival of the Florida panther in the wild”.