Citizens, Scientists, Agency Officials to Focus on Need for Additional Populations of Endangered Panthers
GAINESVILLE, Fla.— The first Florida Panther Symposium will convene Friday at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. During the day-long event, members of the public, conservation groups, federal and state agencies, and experts on Florida panther biology and ecology will explore opportunities and obstacles for expanding the Florida panther's range. A top recovery goal for the Florida panther is establishing additional populations outside its currently occupied habit in South Florida.
The symposium will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, March 21 at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law, 2500 SW 2nd Ave., Gainesville, Fla., in Room 285B.
Morning sessions, including a keynote speech by Joe Guthrie from the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition, are free and open to the public with an RSVP. Afternoon technical meeting is by invitation only.
A screening of the documentary on the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition will be held at 8 p.m. Friday in Room 285B.
On Saturday there will be a field trip to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, which has been identified as a possible panther reintroduction site. Participants will gather at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law parking lot at 7 a.m. to carpool to the refuge. Contact Jaclyn Lopez at email@example.com by March 18 to attend the field trip.
Participants: The Florida Panther Symposium is hosted by the University of Florida Levin College of Law's Conservation Clinic and GreenLaw. It is organized and sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club.
Presentations will be made by Darrell Land, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Florida panther team leader; Erin Meyers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners Program private lands biologist; Tom Hoctor, University of Florida Center for Landscape Conservation planning director; Richard Hilsenbeck, director of Conservation Projects for The Nature Conservancy, St. Augustine, Fla.; Dan Smith, University of Central Florida Department of Biology research associate/adjunct graduate faculty; Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Sara Aicher, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge biologist; Chris Belden, retired Florida panther recovery coordinator; and Keynote presentation by Joe Guthrie, Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition.
Note: The symposium has reached capacity, though space is available for members of the media.
"We're thrilled that so many Floridians care so much about recovering the Florida panther, and we're looking forward to developing a plan to put these amazing animals on a tangible path to recovery," said Jaclyn Lopez, a Florida-based attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "The Florida panther will always be at home in South Florida, but the big cats used to occur all over the Southeast and need more population centers if they're going to be secure in the long run."
"Bringing so many interested parties together to discuss the current status and the future of the Florida panther is inspiring," said Alexis Meyer, Florida panther critical habitat campaign organizer at the Sierra Club. "The future of the Florida panther depends on protecting and expanding their habitat, allowing for the species to regain its foothold as the apex species of Florida."