The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has rejected a proposal to transplant some Florida panthers to the Okefenokee Swamp on the Florida-Georgia border. The only current population of the big cats is in South Florida, and it numbers only 120 to 160 breeding animals.
While the fire mostly has been contained, the aerial videos date from the fire's early weeks, when it appeared more dramatic from the air. The videos come from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Georgia Forestry Commission. They were uploaded to a public website on May 20.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Wednesday declared the eastern cougar to be extinct, confirming a widely held belief among wildlife biologists that native populations of the big cat were wiped out by man a century ago. After a lengthy review, federal officials concluded there are no breeding populations of cougars — also known as pumas, panthers, mountain lions and catamounts — in the eastern United States. Researchers believe the eastern cougar subspecies has probably been extinct since the 1930s.
Environmental groups have formally asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-introduce panthers to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. If their idea is adopted, about a dozen endangered Florida panthers could be put in the swamp to start a new population there. They say, the cats' habitat in South Florida is diminishing.
Federal fish and wildlife officials have added three species of mussels to the endangered list, two of which are found in Georgia waters. The Georgia pigtoe mussel, interrupted rocksnail, and rough hornsnail now have protection for critical habitat.
A rare mussel found only in one coastal river could become the latest Georgia species added to the endangered species list. The Altamaha spinymussel used to be common in several South Georgia rivers but is now found only in the Altamaha.
The Nature Conservancy has bought more than a thousand acres of fire-scorched land and donated it to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. The land is on the refuge's northwest edge, where wildfires burned a half million acres in 2007.