Biologists capture, collar male panther near recent calf depredations
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
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
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.