SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - This week, Congressman Vern Buchanan urged Governor Ron DeSantis to consider protecting the endangered Florida panther when drafting construction plans.
Buchanan understands that modernizing infrastructure to deal with continued population growth is important. He also wants to ensure the health and well-being of an endangered species that also happens to be the Florida state animal and one of the original 14 mammals named to the federal endangered species list in 1967.
“We don’t get a second chance once a species becomes extinct,” Buchanan said in his letter.
Buchanan also said in the letter that a 140-mile proposed highway from Polk to Collier Counties will run directly into the habitat of the panther.
The construction is expected to begin by 2022.
Buchanan says the greatest threat to the panthers is being run over by cars and he is not the only one who is saying this. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, 23 of the 27 panther deaths last year were caused by vehicle collisions.
Four panthers already have been killed in collisions this month.
This is just the latest in Buchanan being a leading advocate in Congress for protecting endangered species. He He introduced the Wildlife Corridors Conservation Act in 2019 to designate National Wildlife Corridors on federal lands and establish a grant program for others to support wildlife.