Last Fall, National Park Service biologists found a deceased female adult panther and one of its kittens alive. The male kitten was about five months old at the time. The National Park Service staff collaborated with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission to transport the kitten to a conservation center where it was examined and given proper care, all the while mainly kept away from human contact, so it would remain as wild as possible. When wild animals are housed at wildlife centers they are often kept away from people so they don’t imprint on them because if imprinting occurs, they can lose their natural wariness of humans. They need it to keep a safe distance from people, when they are released back into wild habitats.
(Photo credit Ralph Arwood.)
Over the last year the panther kitten grew in a healthy manner and was determined to be fit for release back into the wild in the same area where it was found. It was released November 29, at the age of 1.5 years, weighing 86 pounds, and wearing a National Park Service radio collar.
White Oak Conservation Center is the wildlife facility where it was taken care of during captivity. Located in northeast Florida, it spans six hundred acres and has been operating since 1982.
(Photo credit Karen Meeks.)
If you have been following the Florida panther situation,you are already aware each wild panther life there is very important because the total number is very low – just 100-140. They are endangered and protected by law against hunting and trapping. Today many are killed by motorists on highways, because Florida has very little habitat left for the panthers and a huge number of tourists and residents. If you are visiting Florida, slow down when you are driving to give more time to yourself and to a wild animal to avoid an accident.
Image Credit: Karen Meeks and Ralph Arwood