Florida panthers given 876 acres of land to safely roam in SWFL

Reporter: Tiffany Rizzo
Published: Updated:

The Nature Conservancy in Florida is celebrating a recent conservation easement through which they were given 876 acres of land to protect panthers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service and G Road Grove Citrus Grove and Tree Nursery have teamed up.

The Florida panther is in need of help and most of the panthers left are found in Southwest Florida.

With only around 200 adults left in the wild, how can people help?

“By being able to protect land and increase wildlife corridors and connectivity. That’s the best way that we can help panthers and other wildlife benefit from that as well,” said Wendy Mathews, a senior conservation projects manager.

Development in our area is spreading at a record pace, and that’s why the Nature Conservancy partnered with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and bought 876 acres as a conservation easement.

Florida panther
Florida Panther. Credit: FWC

This land is on an agricultural piece of property south of LaBelle in Hendry County.

“The landowner still owns the land, but we purchased the development rights so that it’ll never be developed, but he can continue doing his agricultural operation,” said Mathews.

Buying the land is giving panthers a better chance to survive, where they can migrate from south to north. However, Mathews told WINK News they are not done yet.

“There’s still about one-third of that 30,000 acres in the dispersal zone that need to be protected,” said Mathews.

So they plan to continue purchasing conservation easements or buying land outright to make sure it happens.

The Nature Conservancy said that in the last 10 years, more than 230 panthers have been killed on the road. The more land that’s protected allows panthers to stay on that land versus going into the more developed areas.

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