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Residents ‘paws’ to reflect on ‘Save the Florida Panther Day’

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Saturday is the first "Save the Florida Panther Day," aimed at keeping panthers on the prowl and raising awareness for the issue.

The Florida Panther is leaving its print — on your calendar, that is.

Saturday marks the first “Save the Florida Panther Day.”

“We believe it is a good opportunity for Floridians to pause and reflect on the plight of its state animal, the Florida Panther,” said Darrell Land, the Florida Panther team leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Gov. Rick Scott issued a proclamation on March 6 that established every third Saturday in March as “Save the Florida Panther Day.”

The day is meant to increase awareness of Florida’s endangered state animal.

“We’ve been actively trying to recover the Florida Panther for over 30 years, and we’ve made significant progress, but there’s still work that needs to be done,” Land said.

He said the general public can help with Florida Panther conservation by joining programs like Florida Forever or a local county-level program that preserves habitat.

“All of our work on Florida Panthers is funded through the sale of Florida Panther license plates, so I would like to give a big thank-you to anybody that owns a Florida Panther license plate,” Land said. “If you’re thinking about purchasing one that will go a long ways to help Florida Panther conservation efforts in the state.”

The Florida Panther is part of the American heritage, Land said.

“I am optimistic that Florida will always have Florida Panthers,” he said.

Holly Brooks contributed to this report.

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