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North Florida Field Office

News Release


For Immediate Release

Date: January 22, 2004
Release #: 002-04
Media Contact:
Chuck Underwood, 904-731-3332

Service Statement on National Wildlife Federation Florida Panther Report

The National Wildlife Federation's report on the recently released Scientific Review Team Report focuses on the SRT's findings related to Florida panther habitat studies conducted over the previous decade and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's previous reliance on those studies in making their recovery and conservation decisions.

Past decisions were based on the best scientific and commercial data available at the time those decision were made. The process of recovery and conservation of Federally-listed endangered and threatened species includes regular reviews of the literature and data used in making species-specific decisions including recovery planning, permit consultations and other conservation processes. The Service will adjust its processes as new, validated information and data is received, and will do so in this case if it determines such adjustments are in fact warranted.

It is important to note that the SRT report upon which the Federation has based its own report was completed in draft form in September 2003, sent out for peer review and panther recovery team comments, and then finalized and released in December 2003 just before the Christmas holidays. The Federation's report implies the Service has taken no action as the result of the SRT report, and that is simply not true. The SRT report has been distributed to the Florida Panther Recovery Team and will guide much of the team's discussions in their general recovery plan meeting next week. Additionally, the Service is already in the process of assessing the SRT's findings for integration into its current decision making processes.

The Service continues to be fully committed to conservation and recovery of the Florida panther.

The independent Scientific Review Team did a phenomenal job in completing an exhaustive, comprehensive review and thorough assessment of Florida panther literature, studies and data to date. While they did find significant problems with the studies upon which the Federation's report has focused, they also found the majority of the remaining Florida panther data to be valid and reliable. The Service will address the shortcomings pointed out by the SRT report, but can also continue its forward progress in many areas of Florida panther recovery and conservation knowing it is in fact based on sound science.


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Last modified January 22, 2004