Environmental non-profits file lawsuit to protect Florida panthers

The Sierra Club and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida filed the suit. They said they do not want to be the last generation of Floridians to see a wild panther. Now, people are torn, whether quicker travel outweighs the safety of panthers.

Since nearly 85% of panther deaths are on the roadway, they filed the lawsuit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Department of Transportation and the United States Army Corps of Engineers to protect the animals.

The environmental non-profits state the expanding State Rd. 29 and State Rd. 82 would harm the panthers.

Patrice Jean, a Naples resident, agrees with the non-profits.

“We shouldn’t really try to mess with the wildlife,” Jean said. “And let the little bit of wildlife we have left, just leave it alone.”

Brendon Hilker, who lives in Naples, disagrees with their conclusion.

“I think it will help out,” Hilker said. “It would be a lot quicker to get places.”

But a bigger road means quicker travel.

“I love panthers,” Hilker said. “I love animals and wildlife. But I need to get to work sometimes.”

FDOT said they are working together with other federal agencies to review the complaint. The Army Corps said it does not comment on litigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife did not get back to us.

Reporter:Taylor Smith
Writer:Michael Mora
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