Panther Trapped Between a Hard Rock and a Hard Place

The Seminole Indians want to destroy 200 acres of Florida panther habitat

Haven't politicians gambled enough with the possible extinction of the Florida Panther?

Now, plans from the good-natured, gambling people of the Seminole Indian Tribe may strip away valuable wetlands and habitat that likely houses a few of the remaining big cats native to South Florida.

The Seminoles want to clear 200 acres of wetland on the Big Cypress Reservation in Broward to mine limestone to improve Snake Road, considered a death trap that has claimed numerous lives, according to the Sun-Sentinel. That same land, though, has been known to be prowled by the mysterious and elusive panther, and so environmentalists are concerned that the loss of habitat will force the panthers to move elsewhere.

"The panther is getting squeezed,'' conservationist Matthew Schwartz told the Sun-Sentinel. "Each development may not be the final nail in the coffin, but it's the cumulative impact."

With the type of money brought in by the Seminole Hard Rock and other casinos, which often translates into powerful lobbyists, it seems unlikely environmentalists or the panther will win out in this battle.

As per a federal mitigation requirement, the tribe says it will make improvements to 736 acres of wetland on the west side of the reservation, which, according to Seminole Tribe lawyer Gary Bitner, is where most of the panther habitat lies.

If approved by the Army Corp of Engineers, the impending limestone mining is sure to bring on a man vs. nature confrontation, and that's a gamble the Florida panther likely would rather not take.

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