The Florida panther's status as endangered is up for review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The iconic big cat has been on the list of federally-protected endangered species since it was first drawn up in 1967. The federal agency wants to hear from stakeholders in South Florida about what, if any, protections the panther should have in the future.
David Shindle, the Florida Panther Coordinator for the US Fish & Wildlife Service, joins Gulf Coast Live to talk about the processes by which endangered species are reviewed, and what could change when it comes to the protections now in place for the species.
Also joining the program is Dr. Melanie Culver, a geneticist whose 2000 study of North American big cats found a genetic bases that could question the Florida panthers taxonomy, which raises new questions despite her support for their continued protection.
And Amber Crooks with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida will join the program to discuss the comeback panthers have seen locally, and what supporters of the conservancy have to say about protections for the big cat.