WHAT WE DO

Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge

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Accomplishments, Programs, and Projects

Friends Working

The Friends play a critical role in support of these activities. You can assist the Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge in its mission and support the refuge as it progresses with research, outreach, and land management activities by becoming a member, making a donation, or volunteering your time.

Habitat

  • Environmental Education: Providing funds and volunteers for public outreach
    • Supporting education and outreach efforts, including funding “Living with Panthers” brochures and motorist cards explaining why driving carefully is important in panther habitat.
    • Volunteering hundreds of hours at events to educate the general public about the plight of the Florida panther and the importance of the Refuge.
    • Participate in the annual Florida Panther Festival, attended by over 1,000 people. We were able to reach Refuge neighbors and provide them information on living with Florida panthers and the role of the Friends group.
    • Funding a refuge intern position for public outreach.
    • Administering an “Adopt a Panther” program that has raised thousands of dollars for the Friends mission over the last three years. Many schools have ‘adopted’ a panther bringing interest in the Florida panther and its environment to school children and their families.
  • Scientific Studies: Advancing Knowledge of Wildlife on the Refuge
    • Secured equipment for study on the federally endangered Florida Bonneted Bat
    • Secured transmitter and funded capture costs to track Swallow Tailed Kite migration
  • Habitat Management: Restoration and protection of Refuge habitat
    • Collaborating with Refuge staff on restoration of a disturbed area to wetlands.
    • Advocating against incompatible development that may impact the Refuge, its management activities, or its sensitive flora and fauna.
    • Assisted in the restoration of orchids on the Refuge, including the rare Florida Ghost Orchid
  • Natural Diversity: Sponsoring invasive species workshops and volunteer days
    • Improving denning habitat and available food sources for Florida panthers by support of Refuge and surrounding land management activities.
    • Sponsoring the annual Southwest Florida Invasive Species Workshop at FGCU to educate and train over 200 natural resource professionals
  • Public Use and Visitors: Seeing and experiencing the Refuge
    • Sponsoring “Save the Panther Day” at the annual Refuge open house. This event is an opportunity for the public to enjoy parts of the Refuge that are not generally open to the public through numerous outdoor activities like swamp buggy tours, nature talks, plant and bird identification hikes, and orchid swamp walks.
    • Guiding tours of the Refuge and funding interpretive signs on the Refuge trails.
    • Provided donation kiosk at the Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge. The Marsh Trail is a popular winter trail that provides excellent wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities. Donations are used by USFWS for improvements at the TTINWR.
  • The Future: Advocacy for New Refuge Establishment and Expansion
    • Advocating for acquisition and preservation of environmentally-sensitive lands.
    • Supporting the establishment of the new Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.