As always, business and economic expansion is more important, at the end of the day, to wild species conservation. And the Trump administration, as we well know, is very keen on economic expansion in the USA together with the resultant increase in job opportunities and job security. This is one of President Trump’s main objectives; laudable but anti-conservation as is his withdrawal from combating global warming.
In meeting that objective the Trump administration is expected to approve a large development proposed for the state of Florida. Up to 45,000 acres of rural Collier County in South-West Florida have been chosen as the site for housing and commercial development under a plan set up by a coalition of 11 major Florida landowners together with sand and gravel mines (collectively known as the Eastern Collier Property Owners).
This is truly a very large development and expansion in business and human settlements and on a particularly sensitive area because it falls within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) primary zone for the already heavily pressured Florida panther of which around a hundred exist in the wild. Although, the newspapers suggest that 200 adults survive.
The existence of this subspecies of cat has been on a knife edge for very many years. They are often killed on roads which criss-cross Florida and they have been under constant pressure from human expansion for a long time. They are inbred because of their small number.
The development is going to be built on panther habitat which needs to be preserved in the interests of the survival of the Florida panther in the wild.
“This area was never intended for this amount of development,” – Amber Crooks, environmental policy manager of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.
The area earmarked for development contains a lot of important habitat for the Florida panther and other rare species. This rare, iconic, wild cat species needs all its available habitat to survive.
Conservationists have petitioned the FWS to reject the proposal. They have submitted a 20,000 signature petition combined with a 100 page letter during a 45 day public consultation period which ended last month apparently.
Previous developments have won approval and I would bet my bottom dollar that the same will happen with this one. At the end of the day, as I mentioned in the title, economic expansion always wins over wildlife conservation. This is because the world is driven by economic expansion. It is the primary concept upon which the economies of nations are managed and built.
There has been some compromise by the developers to, for example, widen corridors through which panthers can travel to other areas assigned as their habitat.
Ironically, a news item in the Naples News claims that the developers were “good stewards of the land and treasured native wildlife”! The Florida panther is also under pressure from rising ocean levels due to global warming. The Florida panther’s cousin the eastern cougar was hunted to extinction many years ago but formally declared extinct in 2015.
At one stage, several years ago, I suggested that there was a conspiracy by business developers for the the Florida panther to be eradicated. There is no doubt that wildlife gets in the way of economic development. Life would be much easier for business developers if the Florida panther was already extinct.
Source: Myself and The Guardian.