Florida panthers were among the first to go on the Endangered Species List back in 1973 when there were as few as 20 remaining individuals. Today they are still in great peril with as few as 100-160 in the wild, but biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) successfully released one female Florida panther into the Picayune Strand State Forest recently with the hope that she will become a successful mom.
The female panther and her brother had been raised at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee since they were 5 months old. The FWC rescued the two as kittens after their mother was found dead.
“This panther is healthy and has grown to a size that should prepare her for life in the wild, ” said Darrel Land, FWC panther team leader. “The goal of any panther rescue is to be able to release the animal back into the wild to aid in the recovery of this endangered species.”
The male panther will also be released soon but in a different area which will be carefully chosen to avoid conflict with other territorial males.
“One of the causes of death is interspecies aggression and putting the young male panther in a territory with other males would put him at a disadvantage,” FWC spokesman Kevin Baxter explains.
Five other kittens of similar ages have been raised at White Oak and released in south Florida.
Brought to you by the Harmony Fund international animal rescue charity.
FWC Photos by Tim Donovan