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Panther, Manatee, Burrowing Owl: Threats to Mammals & Florida Fowl

Photos: Wikimedia Creative Commons

In the environmentally sensitive landscape of Southwest Florida, there are a few endangered or threatened species that tend to take center stage. In recent weeks, species ranging from manatees to panthers to burrowing owls have made headlines over significant changes to the laws designed to protect them.

The Florida Panther is on the move, with two panther kittens confirmed north of the Caloosahatchee River. This news comes on the heels of the first female panther sighting in that area just months ago.

The West Indian Manatee has also been taken off the federal endangered species list, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it still considers manatees a “threatened” species, and safeguards put in place to protect the previously endangered animal won’t change. However, no everyone is celebrating.

And the burrowing owl has been listed as threatened species at the state level. These ground-dwelling birds have been the target of some landowners who wildlife watchers say are trying to get rid of their burrows by filling them with rocks or pouring pesticides into the holes. Wildlife advocates say it's often due to the mistaken belief that development can’t happen on land where these owls live.

Wednesday at 1:30 p.m., Amber Crooks with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida about the cubs north of the Caloosahatchee means for the endangered Florida panther.

Also joining the show is Anne Harvey Hollbrook, staff attorney for the Save the Manatees Project, discussing why the de-listing of manatees could undermine the advances the species has recently made. 

And Brad Cornell with the Audubon of the Western Everglades and Audubon Florida explains how the nests of burrowing owls can be legally moved, and what penalties people face if they attempt to harm burrowing owls.

Matthew Smith is a reporter and producer of WGCU’s Gulf Coast Live.
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