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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 Service purchased the initial 24,300 acres from the Collier family for $10.3 million dollars. 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.

Florida panthe , Puma concolor coryi, remains one of the most endangered mammals in the world.

Top: the common grass pink, Calopogon tuberosus, is a terrestrial orchid that flowers among the saw grass prairies; bottom: few people will ever see a Florida panthe , but identifying a panther track is a sure sign they are around.

Florida Panthers The tawny Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi), is one of the most endangered large mammals in the United States. The Florida panther was eliminated over much of its historical range by the late 1800’s by human persecution and habitat destruction. By the time the panther was granted protection (State-1950; Federal-1967), the animal was already in danger of extinction. A single wild population in southern Florida, estimated to contain 80-100 adults, is all that remains of an animal that once ranged throughout most of the southeastern United States. This remnant population utilizes landscapes totaling approximately 2,000,000 acres, about half of which is in private ownership.

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