AR-News: U.S. Accused of Cooking Florida Panther Data
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Wed May 5 04:09:21 EDT 2004
U.S. Accused of Cooking Florida Panther Data
The Associated Press
Monday 03 May 2004
With no more than 100 Florida panthers roaming the southwestern part of
the state, a Fish and Wildlife Service biologist is accusing the agency of
putting developers' needs ahead of the endangered cats.
Andrew C. Eller Jr., a Fish and Wildlife biologist for 17 years, filed a
formal complaint Monday alleging the agency is knowingly using flawed
science in key decisions affecting how much undeveloped land is set aside
for the panthers.
"Panther literature considered 'best available science' by the USFWS
contains unsupported assumptions, uses inappropriate analytical methods and
selectively uses data to support conclusions," Eller said in his complaint.
He said agency figures are being inflated and habitat needs minimized.
For example, daytime and nightly habitat use patterns are wrongly equated
and all panthers are falsely assumed to be breeding adults to show a higher
reproduction rate, he said.
Eller said the agency should conclude that the animal's existence is in
jeopardy, which could require stricter protections against development.
"They're all getting the green light -- there's no such thing as a
caution or red light," Eller, who lives in Vero Beach, Fla., told The
Associated Press. "We're losing habitat to urban development and
agricultural land conversion quicker than it can be protected."
Florida panthers have considered an endangered species since 1967. The
tawny golden or pale brown, long-tailed cats, measuring up to 7 feet in
length and weighing up to 150 pounds, are a subspecies of puma and are
closely related to cougars and mountain lions in the West.
They once stalked Texas, Louisiana and the lower Mississippi River
valley, but now are confined mostly to south Florida, within Big Cypress
Swamp and the Everglades.
"One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or
torture an animal and get away with it" Margaret Mead.
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