News Releases

Biologists capture, collar male panther near recent calf depredations

News Release

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro (FWC), 772-215-9459; Ken Warren (USFWS), 772-643-4407

Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) have successfully captured and collared a male panther near the recent calf depredations in eastern Collier County. The capture went smoothly and occurred without incident on Wednesday.

Hounds detected the panther's scent a little more than a mile west of the depredation sites. The hounds followed the scent trail, and the panther was eventually treed and captured on the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Biologists performed a routine medical examination after the panther was tranquilized.

The captured panther weighed approximately 130 pounds and is estimated to be 4-5 years old. Biologists took several biological samples and administered a number of vaccines. The panther appears to be healthy.

The panther was outfitted with a combination radio and GPS collar, which will allow biologists to monitor its movements. It was released inside the refuge.

"Now that the panther is tagged and can be tracked, biologists may be able to intervene to keep this panther from returning to depredation sites," said the FWC's Panther Team leader, Darrell Land. "The capture is a form of aversive conditioning aimed at creating an unpleasant association with people. Other forms of aversive conditioning may be used as we continue to monitor this panther."

One or more Florida panthers took a number of calves over the past month within this Sunniland area. FWC biologists found male Florida panther tracks near the site of two of the depredations.

The agencies continue to work with the ranchers, who are allowing the panther team to track panthers on their land. The FWC is grateful for their support, which is critical to the success of panther conservation.

Under the terms of the Interagency Florida Panther Response Plan, the FWC, the USFWS and the National Park Service are the primary agencies responsible for responding to human-panther interactions and depredations in a timely and effective manner. Reports of cattle depredation are a relatively new occurrence. Past panther depredations have involved animals such as goats kept in residential yards. In those instances, people have been largely successful at deterring residential depredations by securing their animals at night in protective enclosures. However, it is more difficult to protect large herds of cattle, because they roam over hundreds of acres.

The Florida panther is one of the rarest large mammals in the United States. The population declined to approximately 30 cats by the early 1980s. Today, biologists believe there are at least 100 adult panthers in Florida. Human-panther encounters are occurring more often because of human encroachment near panther habitat and an increase in the panther population. Conflicts with humans raise issues that require careful consideration and action to conserve the species while the safety of the public remains paramount.

The panther was listed as endangered in 1967 and is protected under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 (16USC1531-1544) and Florida Administrative Code (FAC) 68A-27. Under state and federal laws and regulations, panther management and protection are the primary responsibility of the USFWS and the FWC. The National Park Service is responsible for coordinating panther management on its lands.

To report panther threats, pets or livestock lost to a panther, or an injured or dead panther, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). For more information on how to live safely with panthers, download the "Living with Panthers" brochure at www.FloridaPantherNet.org. The purchase of panther specialty license plates helps fund panther research and management. Visit www.buyaplate.com for more information.



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