News Release: Associated Press News
Updated: March 10, 2014, 7pm
LABELLE, Fla. (AP) -- Wildlife officials have finally released an endangered Florida panther that was rehabilitated after a car crash.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports that the panther was released in southeastern Hendry County Monday afternoon.
Two scheduled releases last week had to be postponed after the young female panther eluded capture inside its 5-acre pen at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee.
The panther was rescued as a kitten in May. She needed surgery for injuries that included a broken leg, rib fractures and bruising around her lungs.
The panther is an endangered species, and it's rare for wildlife officials to treat them in captivity. Only around 160 panthers are believed to roam southern Florida.
News Release: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists released an endangered Florida panther March 10 on private property in southeast Hendry County.
“We are pleased that we have been able to successfully rescue, rehabilitate and release this panther back into the wild,” said FWC Commissioner Ron Bergeron. “We believe this panther has a good chance of contributing to progress we are making in the recovery of this population.”
The FWC and partners rescued the kitten last May in Collier County after the panther had apparently been struck by a vehicle. At the time of her rescue, the approximately 9-month-old female kitten had a fracture in her right hind leg, rib fractures and bruising around the lungs. Rescuers took her to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida, where she had surgery that used a steel plate to mend the bone together.
After she recovered from surgery, the panther was transported to White Oak, a conservation center in Yulee, where she received care until she was fully healed and ready for release.
“We are grateful to our partners that helped make the rescue and rehabilitation of this panther possible,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “Our thanks go to White Oak, Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, the Golden Gate Animal Clinic, University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue and rehabilitation of injured or orphaned panthers by purchasing a “Protect the Panther” license plate. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.
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 go to FloridaPantherNet.org.