Press Release: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Palm Beach County, Fla. -- Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) released a male Florida panther Wednesday night at the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area. The release site is along the borders of Palm Beach, Broward and Hendry counties.
“We chose this location because it is part of the species’ known range, and it should provide ample undeveloped area for the panther to acclimate into the wild,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader.
The FWC rescued the panther and its sister as 5-month-old kittens in September 2011 in northern Collier County after their mother was found dead. The animals were then taken to the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, where they were subsequently raised. The panther siblings are now nearly 2 years old.
“These panthers most likely would not have survived without our intervention and the subsequent support of White Oak staff,” said Land. The female panther was successfully released in February in Collier County. Through post-release monitoring, biologists have observed her adapting well and behaving as typical wild female panthers do.
FWC biologists have determined the male panther is healthy and has grown to a size that should prepare him for life in the wild. However, young male panthers must be on their guard to avoid adult male panthers.
“We are pleased with the progress of the female since her release,” said Land. “Young males face the additional survival challenge of potential confrontations with older males, but we believe our choice of a release site will minimize the risk of such encounters.” Both releases were coordinated in consultation with partners from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. An estimated 100 to 160 adult and subadult endangered panthers remain in south Florida.
Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue and rehabilitation of these panthers by purchasing a panther license plate. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.
“The rescue, rehabilitation and release of these panthers were made possible by these license plate funds,” said Land. 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, including a guide to living with panthers, go to www.floridapanthernet.org.