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Dead cat walking
Part 1:
  • Get ready for Florida cat's doom
    The Florida panther is in worse shape than ever. Although there are now 100 of them, thanks to a bold genetic experiment in 1995, the panthers are crowded into a smaller area than ever. Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have never blocked any development that wipes out panther habitat, even manipulating numbers and using flawed science to justify saying yes to projects. As a result, genetic defects and other problems are now cropping up, leading to predictions that the state animal is just a dead cat walking.
  • Panther facts
Part 2:
  • As federal officials ignore experts' plan, Florida panther habitat disappears
    Federal wildlife officials convened a panel of experts to map out the Florida panther habitat that needed to be saved. They argued for two years but finally produced a detailed report -- which the agency never published. Meanwhile federal officials allowed the destruction of habitat the group had said needed to be protected. Their findings are now the basis for a lawsuit against the government.
[Photog | Times]

As Florida panther habitat shrinks, extinction fears rise


The Florida panther is the state animal, but federal officials have allowed development of thousands of acres of Florida panther habitat. Now there is no longer enough Florida panther habitat left for the growing population of panthers, and genetic defects that had been vanquished are reappearing. In this series, based on two years of investigation, St. Petersburg Times environmental reporter Craig Pittman examines what went wrong and whether the panther is now a dead cat walking. Pittman, 49, is a Florida native who has won numerous state and national awards for his coverage of environmental issues. He is also the author of "Manatee Insanity: Inside the War Over Florida's Most Famous Endangered Species," and co-author with Matthew Waite of "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss," both published by the University Press of Florida. For more about Florida panther facts, check our interactive timeline, watch video of a Florida panther capture and click on the links of this special report.