TAMPA, Fla., Feb. 5 (UPI) — A Florida family has received “credits” potentially worth millions of dollars for creating a panther refuge on land they will continue to farm, officials say.
In fact, no panthers are known to live on the 4,000 acres owned by the Milicevics, the St. Petersburg Times reports. Panthers have been seen on the land but are believed to have been passing through, heading north from areas in South Florida where they are being crowded out by development.
Desmond Duke, who is marketing panther credits, or panther habitat units, for the Milicevics, told the newspaper they can be sold for about $1,500 each. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service granted the family 96,000 credits with a total price of $144 million, far more than the assessed value of the land, where 500 head of cattle run.
“It’s kind of a cool deal,” said Brett DuBois of Panthercredits.com, who gets a cut because he helped set up the deal. “Everybody comes out on top.”
The buyers of the credits are likely to be developers planning to encroach on the habitat where panthers actually live. Federal officials defend the arrangement, saying the Milicevic land is potentially important to the panther.
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