Man Sentenced for Shooting Endangered Panther
A Georgia man convicted of killing an endangered Florida panther was sentenced to two years of probation and a $2,000 fine. During the probation period he will not be allowed to obtain a hunting license anywhere in the United States. Florida panthers have been protected by the Endangered Species Act for many years. Currently their population is estimated to be about 100-150, though before cougars from Texas were introduced in the 1980s, it had declined to 15-20. The smallest group had† experienced inbreeding and genetic defects such as kinked tails, heart conditions, and other health problems.
“Todayís sentencing affirms our commitment to investigate violations of the federal wildlife laws intended to protect our Nationís most imperiled species,” said Luis J. Santiago, who works for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. (Source: Fish and Wildlife Service)
Every loss of a Florida panther reduces the chances of their survival, because there is one less potential mother or father available to create another generation. Also, there is less genetic diversity available in the overall population, which makes it more likely inbreeding will take place, a problem that could spell the end of the species. Each loss of one of them from poaching, trapping or vehicle accidents ruins all the work by conservation biologists, policy makers and residents who cooperate to try to save them from over-development. It also wastes the money invested in maintaining their current population and securing their future. Consider the fact an entire portion of the Florida panther population was lost over just one weekend last year.
The man who killed the Florida panther knew there was no hunting season for it, and obviously had no permit, because there aren’t permits for hunting endangered species with legal protection. The maximum sentence for killing an endangered species is a fine of up to $50,000, and a $25,000 civil penalty and/or one year of prison time.
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