Won't they hurt our razorbacks?

(February 17, 2004) - (Little Rock-AP) -- Four Arkansas locations are among 13 possible sites federal wildlife officials have identified in a program to expand the range of the endangered Florida panther. But Arkansas Game and Fish officials are not interested in having the cats stocked in the state. The Arkansas sites are the Ozark Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, and two sites in the Gulf Coastal Plain of southern Arkansas. Florida panthers, which also are known as mountain lions, pumas, or southeastern cougars, once roamed Arkansas. But by about 1920, they were gone. The species is still protected under federal law. It has been on the federal endangered species list for more than two decades. David Goad, the Game and Fish Commission's deputy director, says Arkansas wildlife officials would be consulted before any introduction of Florida panthers to the state. Commissioner Mike Freeze of England says putting the big cats in Arkansas doesn't seem like a good idea because the state has changed so much since the species was originally here.