Everglades Hunting Proposal Threatens Florida Panthers; Public Meeting Wednesday in Weston

Categories: Environment, News
florida-panther.jpg
Flickr: mich&pics
This guy may be competing with a hunter for his food.
The National Park Service is poised to implement a plan that would allow hunting in one of the last outposts of untrammeled land in the Everglades: the northeast corner of the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The rest of the preserve is already open to hunting, but this section, called the Big Cypress Addition Lands, has been off-limits to deer hunters since its acquisition by the federal government in a land-swap deal with its owners, the Collier family, in 1988.

The proposal for hunting is controversial not just because of its potential impact on the deer population but because those deer are food to the 100 or so remaining Florida Panthers -- one of the most endangered species in the world.

"There are about 180 deer in the entire area," says Matthew Schwartz of the South Florida Wildlands Association, who is organizing an effort to voice opposition to the hunting plan. "Scientists are very worried, because... it's very likely that panthers are going to be competing with recreational hunters for food."

The Addition Lands number some 146,000 acres on Broward County's western border, bisected by Alligator Alley. Schwartz says that the area south of the highway is a waterlogged cypress swamp and that the northern part is "spectacular: a true mosaic of prairies, marshes, and hardwood hammocks."

It's also an important feeding ground for the tiny extant population of panthers, which has been demolished by human development, shrinking habitat, and hunting in the remainder of the preserve. An area on the western side of Big Cypress is set aside as the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. But, says Schwartz, with diminishing resources and the tendency of the big cats to walk 20 miles a day in search of food, "a panther born in the refuge might well find its way into the addition lands."

He argues that "this land was purchased by the American people for the purpose of resource protection. It's the property of 3 million Americans, not 650 hunters," a number estimated by the park service.

Current proposals include keeping an outright ban on hunting in the Addition Lands, adopting a management plan similar to the one in use in the rest of the preserve, or implementing a provisional plan to allow hunting, subject to further changes.

Park officials are holding a public-comment session tomorrow night from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure in Weston. Public comment is also being accepted online until September 16. Tomorrow night's meeting will include a review of the proposed options and a time for comments of three minutes per person.

"We expect a significant number of hunters to be there," Schwartz says. "It should be a lively meeting. Hopefully it will be a peaceful one."
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HIGHWATER
HIGHWATER

Matthew Scwartz and his anti hunting organization must acknowledge the fact that these Texas Cougars are their own worse enemy . Worse than all the "illegal hunting " that could have ever possibly occurred in the cypress. Florida Pan/Cougar reintroduction program is a government funded /  24/7 poaching opeartion .The data does not  lie , large cat needs x-lbs of meat to survive and that has translated into the decline of the deer herd over the course of the last decade as well as other critters.   God only knows just how many of these carreer saving felines are walking around out there..

Gladesman's Buddy
Gladesman's Buddy

Wow - should have checked in sooner.  Had no idea I was missing so much action here.  Anyway - have no idea what my buddy Mr. Gladesman is saying (some of the time).  We really are buddies.  He was out on a hike with me in the Additon some years ago - and yes he is capable of some serious hiking - and told me he thought the Addition looked "poached out" = no deer to hunt.  I was out with a friend last Sunday hiking for about 8 hours - saw one doe on top of the levee at MM 52.  And that was it.

As far as the amount of deer that can be taken out of the original preserve - under the current administration, absolutely no limit.  There is a 9 day period during General Gun season when hunters need a permit - but only in the Bear Island Unit and the  Turner River Unit.  Other than that - it's 2 deer per hunter per year but no limit on the total number of hunters who can access the preserve.  And therefore no limit to the number of deer that can be taken.

Here is what the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have to say about the deer herd in the Addition Lands.  If my math is correct, this entire fight is over the ability to hunt 62 deer.  And the NPS wants to give 650 off-road vehicle permits out in the Addition Lands to be used for motorized hunting:

"Ackerman (1982) found that a cougar in Utah killed a mule deer about each 9.5 days, which equates to 39 mule deer per year per cougar. Although it is difficult to directly compare kill rates by cougars in Utah with Florida panthers, the scale of predation (e.g., tens of deer per year per panther) may be appropriate where deer are abundant. If this level of predation on deer is a valid assumption, then Florida panthers and hunters may be competing for the same deer. Studies of Florida panther stomach and fecal contents show wild hogs, rabbits, armadillos, and other small game are also preyed upon, but it is not clear if these prey are preferred or if panthers are forced to prey on smaller game because deer are lacking. If deer are the preferred prey, then predation probably exerts a significant influence on the deer population.

In 2008 the deer herd in the Northeast Addition north and south of I-75 was estimated to be 133 and 54, respectively (Joe Bozzo, Wildlife Biologist, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, pers. comm., December 2008). Typically, up to 33% of the game population can be harvested annually and remain sustainable."

Gladesman
Gladesman

Excuse me for a mistake.In this paragraph from my previous post below:

This group also claims erroneously that the only uplands (pines, palmettos, oaks etc.) in the Addition are South of I-75. That is not correct either since all one has to drive from Ft Laud to Naples and look South to see the TRUTH.

South of I-75 should read North of I-75

Now that is an honest mistake.

Ruagatr
Ruagatr

Well said mr gladesman. And what you say is the absolute truth. Hunters are the real conservationists and have every right tobuse the land they helped provide tothe goverment based on false pretenses.

nanook5
nanook5

my wingnut bullshit-o-meter just broke.

for firsthand experience on what great conservationalists hunters are, i went to go ask a passenger pigeon, only to find THAT HUNTERS KILLED ALL THREE FUCKING BILLION OF THEM.

if it wasn't being forthright enough, here's my math-filled response: fuck all of you. so much!

Dirtycash06
Dirtycash06

You need a life asshole! Nanook pick up a hunting book of go to a hunting class so u can learn y ppl r hunting animals!... Like over population or maybe even takin out hurt or sick animals it's not about killing it's about doing what's right for the enviroment. If not there would b deer on i95 n I. The middle of downtown Miami!

Gladesman
Gladesman

Nanook5 of the North -  I want to thank you for my first real good laugh of the day. It was a full 30 second belly laugh.  Believe it or not I like and appreciate your style and use of our language.I also appreciate the Broward New Times for alloeing free speech since I do believe in that very much.

Gladesman
Gladesman

Would have posted yesterday but had to get to last night's meeting about this.Some  of the info being touted as being facts need to be corrected so that nobody falls prey to misinformation.Now the So Fl Wildlands Association (the anti-hunting group) is run by a fellow that knows better than to be stating as he has in some info he is spreading to anyone that will listen that hunters can kill as many deer as they want in these areas. That is not true and he acknowledged that to me last night and complained me mentioning it at the podium caused him to lose speaking time addressing he issue.. This group also claims erroneously that the only uplands (pines, palmettos, oaks etc.) in the Addition are South of I-75. That is not correct either since all one has to drive from Ft Laud to Naples and look South to see the TRUTH.It is very disappointing to me witnessing such desperate tactics from someone I had thought more of. It was also very sad to see the very well intentioned followers of this group stand up one after another and repeat similar hog wash they have been lead to believe is the truth.If they only knew how foolish they look to professionals and knowledgeable folks observing their acts of desperation. On top of everything else I spoke to their leader Mr Schwartz on the phone prior to the meeting and he again assured me he and his group were not against hunting but yet they all supported a hunting ban (Alternative 2) throughout the entire Big Cypress National Preserve including the Addition not just the Addition. Now as intelligent as I know this person is I feel safe believing he knows exactly what would happen should Alternative 2 be chosen and has developed a habit of NOT shooting straight with the public or his own supporters.Hopefully all the well informed outdoorspersons will choose to comment regarding this plan to offset the well intentioned but misinformed folks that will comment.Folks on both sides of this debate should be able to listen to one another but it is impossible when nothing but a steady stream of BS is flowing like the Mighty Mississippi River from one side of the debate.

nanook5
nanook5

none of that nit-picking bullshit changes the fact that you and your asshat buddies want to keep obliterating what's left of nature, and worse of all, for your stupid fucking amusement.  i strongly suggest for entertainment you try hurling unnecessary quantities of epithets at people you've never met who happen to be pampered and sadistic fucksticks.

Gladesman
Gladesman

Hey nannok5 of the North sounds like you need a day out in the Addition to chill before we invade it.Please get a grip. Lighten up - life is very short.

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Deepdive Inc
Deepdive Inc

I know guns, I have guns and I will say that "hunting" with powerful guns is a sadistic and coward activity that should be accepted "only" in case of the animal becomes plague, that of course, the deers or the panthers are not the case. I never watched anything more pornographic than a "hunter" killing a poor animal with an scoped rifle that blows your head at 700 yards, and just for "sport", living many times the cubs of their victims as prey for scavengers. What a f.... is that? What sport it's that??. I killed an elephant with an infrared missile guided by a satellite?. If you want to call yourself a hunter, go and do it with a knife or a spear, cowards...

Gladesman
Gladesman

Not to be disrespectful to anyones insight built upon many years of experience but telescopic sights make much more precise shots possible thus assuring the target is dispatched ( dead) quickly .That is why many folks use telescopic sights. Some might want to commend them for doing that instead of criticizing them.That said taking precise shots beyond 3-400 yards is very difficult and possibly not appropriate IMO without special equipment (range finders) and much experience.

Jeanette Holmgren
Jeanette Holmgren

My God how all bloodthirsty humans cry out in rage if anyone tries to save animals from death. All of you, don't you know that animals will take care of the hunting for themselves without our 'divine' help? They did so before we came along and would do so without us. So we do NOT need to hunt and kill them. And all of you who protest so much about the article and the numbers, if you 'know' they are so wrong, how come you can't provide accurate numbers yourselves? Juat saying 'they are wrong and full of bs' does not make you any more credible.

A native Floridian
A native Floridian

Major nonsense in this blog post. the addition lands were ALWAYS hunted by sportsman before the land swap. The enabling legislation, which provided the funds to purchase these lands, REQUIRES traditional use, including hunting. It is also total nonsense that there are 100 panthers and 180 deer there---there are thousands of deer and hundreds if not thousands of Panthers throughtout the state of Florida. The State keeps the true Panther population at the lowest possible level so they can justify their budgets, protective and unneeded rules etc. The next time you are going to publish a piece like this, call some of the pro hunting folks too....

nanook5
nanook5

the bullshit conspiracy theory you're floating to justify the continued destruction of our environment is just solely the purview of a grade a fucktard.

just as there are plenty of dipshits that turn people from the plight of animals and environment, you make anyone that argues for their right to hunt look like a bunch of lying, greedy shitbricks that ought to only be pointing their guns at their own worthless heads.

won't somebody PLEASE think about the hunters?!?

Billy Ballsack
Billy Ballsack

Unlike certain fair and balanced news organizations with which you may be intimately familiar, not everybody pretends to be "objective" by putting up two opposing viewpoints and acting like they're equal. Panthers need the deer for food, you enjoy the deer for fun. You're gonna have to bring out a more convincing argument than conspiracy theories if you want equal billing with the big cats.

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