FWC rescues 2 orphaned panther kittens
Friday, September 23, 2011
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
They may have lost their mother, but two 5-month-old Florida
panther kittens have a good chance of survival, thanks to the
efforts of staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, White Oak
Conservation Center in North Florida and a volunteer with Big
Cypress National Preserve. The kittens were successfully captured
this morning near the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed area
in Collier County.
FWC biologists began tracking the kittens' mother in February.
She was captured, collared and released. In May, they examined and
marked her three kittens on private land in Lee County.
On Sept. 14, a mortality signal from the mother's collar was
detected during a routine telemetry flight. Her skeletal remains
were located later that day. The cause of death is unknown.
Knowing orphaned kittens cannot survive long in the wild without
their mother, biologists worked quickly to capture the kittens.
Remote cameras and traps were set. Several days went by with no
activity, and hope the kittens would be found alive was fading.
That is until Thursday. FWC biologists checked the cameras and
found pictures of two panther kittens.
This morning, two kittens were trapped together in a single
trap. It is believed that only two of the three kittens survived to
this age. They were successfully rescued and transported via
private plane to White Oak Conservation Center, where they will be
raised and conditioned for a future return to the wild.
"Losing a mother panther in the prime of her life is tough,"
said Darrell Land, FWC biologist and panther team leader. "But we
hope we can finish the job she started by raising her kittens so
they can be returned to the wild. With only 100-160 adult panthers
remaining in South Florida, every individual is important."
The public can support panther conservation efforts. Funds
generated through the purchase of a panther
license plate go directly to supporting the research and
management of Florida panthers, including the care of these two
Most Floridians or visitors to the state will never get to see
the reclusive long-tailed cat. But they can attend the first annual
Florida Panther Festival on Saturday, Oct. 29, from 10 a.m. to 4
p.m. at North Collier Regional Park in Naples. The purpose of the
free festival is to raise awareness of the endangered Florida
panther, while promoting safe coexistence of people, pets,
livestock and panthers. To learn more about the panther, go to FloridaPantherNet.org.