For Immediate Release
November 24, 1998

Contact: Tom MacKenzie
404/679-7291

FLORIDIANS INVITED TO OPEN FORUM ON PANTHER REFUGE USE PLAN

The public is invited to an open discussion on the proposed management plan for the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge Saturday, December 5, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the refuge office at the Comfort Inn on 3860 Tollgate Boulevard in Naples, Florida.

The proposed plan has evolved from months of public involvement and discussions covering a wide variety of issues, including public access to lands set aside to protect valuable habitat for the endangered Florida panther. The plan calls for a three-year study to determine if deer, feral hog or turkey hunting on the refuge would harm the panther or adversely affect other refuge programs.

Other proposed research projects include:

If the plan is approved and funds are acquired, work would begin immediately to build an educational trail in the southeast corner of the refuge and to create a wildlife and waterbird viewing area off State Road 29 in the northeast portion of the refuge. A visitor center focusing on eco-tourism is also in the early planning stages.

Additional elements of the plan include:

Pending approval of the plan from Sam D. Hamilton, Regional Director of the Southeast Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the plan could be in place by March 1999.

Copies of the plan are available at all public libraries in Collier and Lee counties, and members of the public have until December 21 to comment on it. Written comments should be sent to Mr. Charles R. Danner, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Regional Office, 1875 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, or phoned in by calling 1-800-419-9582. If you have questions about the meeting, call the refuge office at 941-353-8442 ext. 29.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprising more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state wildlife agencies.

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Release #: R98-115


1998 News Releases

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