“located in southwestern Florida”
Immediately prior to refuge establishment, the land was owned by the Collier family and was primarily used for private hunting leases and cattle grazing. A few home sites and hunting camps were located on the land. In 1989, the US Fish & Wildlife Service purchased the initial 24,300 acres from the Collier family for $10.3 million dollars to become the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act, to protect the Florida panther and its habitat. The refuge is located in the core of occupied panther territory, and protection of this important area was needed to ensure that not only panthers and their habitat were protected, but also important wildlife corridors that connected adjacent private and public lands. In 1996, the refuge was expanded to 26,400 acres with the addition of more Collier family land through the Arizona-Florida Land Exchange Act of 1988. Today, in addition to the 5-11 Florida panthers that den, hunt and roam the refuge each month, numerous other wildlife also call the refuge home, including black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, Big Cypress fox squirrels, alligators and wood storks.
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Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
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