A Florida panther in the wild.

Image: Shutterstock

Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental organization with offices across the country, filed a federal lawsuit in Florida’s Middle District on Jan. 9 to challenge road-widening projects on State Roads 29 and 82 in Collier, Lee and Hendry Counties because they would endanger the Florida panther, the official state animal. Earthjustice is representing the Sierra Club and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida in the legal case against the Florida Department of Transportation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Only 120-230 adult panthers remain on Earth, and Southwest Florida is their last remaining wild territory. The big cats have been on the federal endangered species list since 1967. Tampa Bay Times environmental reporter, author and frequent Sarasota contributor Craig Pittman wrote about the Florida panther, an umbrella species—which means that protecting the panther and the land that it roams on is vital to protecting other animals (including humans) and resources, such as water, that we need in Florida—in our December 2019 issue; click here to read his story.

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