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Proposed Toll Road Would Harm Florida Panthers, Report Says

Florida panther roaming sandy grass at night.
Courtesy: The Nature Conservancy
Most Florida panthers are found south of Lake Okeechobee. State wildlife officials say there are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population.

A study says the road planned between Polk and Collier counties would undo all the progress that has been made in the past 25 years for endangered Florida panthers by state and federal agencies.

The Nature Conservancy, an advocacy group, commissioned the report, which was authored by former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission wildlife ecologist Randy Kautz.

Click here to view the full report.

It says the development of a proposed toll road to connect Southwest and Central Florida would fragment and create barriers for panther movement and potentially increase road kill mortality rates.

The findings will be presented to the Southwest-Central Florida Connector Task Force meeting Wednesday at 9 am.

Click here to view the task force agenda.

“We continue to provide science-based input to the toll road task force, in an effort to identify the potential catastrophic impacts to nature that this road could have,” said Temperince Morgan, executive director of The Nature Conservancy in Florida.

“After careful review, we cannot recommend proceeding with the planning for a Southwest-Central Florida Connector.”

Since 2012, I’ve been a voice on public radio stations across Florida - in Miami, Fort Myers, and now Tampa.