News Releases

Florida panther returned to the wild after recovering from vehicle strike

News Release

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Media contact: Carli Segelson (FWC), 772-215-9459;
Tamsin Bell (FDEP), 407-884-2000

Today the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) released a rehabilitated Florida panther at Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park in Okeechobee County.

In April 2014, a vehicle struck the 2-year-old male panther as it was crossing a road just east of Ft. Meade in Polk County. After several hours of searching by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and FWC biologists, law enforcement officers and veterinarians, responders found the injured panther in nearby woods, where it had crawled under a fallen tree.

An FWC veterinarian sedated and stabilized the cat, and then transported it to the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Florida for treatment. There, a team of veterinarians operated, implanting two stabilizing plates to repair the cat’s broken left femur. Later, they performed a second surgery to insert a third plate. After the surgeries were completed, FWC staff took the panther to White Oak, a conservation center in Yulee, where it could recover until ready for release.

Last year the same team performed a similar surgery on a panther that was later successfully released by the FWC.

“We are pleased this panther is now healthy and ready to be back in the wild,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “This would not have been possible without the quick call to authorities by the driver whose vehicle struck the panther.”

Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned panthers by purchasing a “Protect the Panther” license plate. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.

People can also help with panther research by reporting panther sightings and uploading photos and video to the FWC, at

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

For more information on Florida panthers go to

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