Why did Jimmy Lee Bayliss want to scare off any panthers?

This is from the novel Scat.

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From the text:

I hope so, too, thought Jimmy Lee Bayliss. Panthers were Florida’s most famous endangered species, and public sightings attracted lots of attention. If some overeager wildlife officer decided that Red Diamond’s drilling activities were disturbing panther habitat, the whole project could be delayed or even shut down.

Hiaasen, Carl (2009-01-07). Scat (p. 93). Random House Children's Books. Kindle Edition.