Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fla. preserve -- panther stronghold -- re-opened to hunting vehicles

MIAMI, March 11 (UPI) -- The decision to reopen Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve to hunting vehicles may soon reignite a legal environmental debate in the area.

Environmental groups have already responded to the decision to reverse a prior vehicle ban in the preserve by alleging that park officials gave in to pressure from vocal hunters, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said.

"The whole area north of I-75 has probably the greatest concentration of Florida panthers left," environmentalist Matthew Schwartz said. "Those trails were specifically closed to protect the panther."

Hunters have maintained that they need the vehicles to help them travel through the preserve during hunting seasons.

The newspaper said that previous research had found that the use of the noisy vehicles in the area had led to decreased panther activity, whether due to the noise or the disappearance of the animals' prey.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/index.php? feed=Science&article=UPI-1-20070311- 18140600-bc-us-bigcypress.xml

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