Critical Wildlife Corridor Protected for the Florida Panther
Photo credit Connie Bransilver
A track of land critical for wildlife passage and the natural recovery of the Florida panther was just purchased and protected by a collaborative public and private partnership. The land track is a 1,278-acre property along the Caloosahatchee River in Glades County, Florida. "NRCS is proud to be a part of this cooperative effort that will restore vital wetlands and protect critical habitat for the Florida panther forever, Dave White, Chief of NRCS said. "These lands represent an extraordinary expansion of habitat and we are grateful for the collaborative work of The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other partners. By working together, we can put conservation on the ground at a rate none of us could achieve alone." Read the full story here.
Naples Man Pleads Guilty To Shooting A Florida Panther
Fort Myers, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces today that Todd Alan Benfield (45, Naples) pled guilty to shooting and killing a Florida Panther, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Benfield faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and forfeiture of weapons and other equipment used to kill the animal. Read the full story here.
New Funding for the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge
and Conservation Area
July 13, 2012 Top Conservation official from the Obama Administration announced directing $80 million to purchase conservation easements in the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area. These actions will help to expand the Florida panther range to the north.
Naples Man Pleads Guilty To Shooting A Florida Panther
May 18, 2012
Fort Myers, Florida - United States Attorney Robert E. O'Neill announces today that Todd Alan Benfield (45, Naples) pled guilty to shooting and killing a Florida Panther, in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Benfield faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and forfeiture of weapons and other equipment used to kill the animal.
According to the plea agreement, on October 8, 2009, Benfield was bow hunting along Woodland Grade, in the Golden Gate Estates area of Collier County. On that day, he used a tree stand to hunt for deer. From his tree stand, Benfield knowingly shot and killed a Florida Panther with his compound bow and a 3-blade broadhead-tipped arrow. The following day, Benfield and an associate moved the panther into the Woodland Grade area, in an attempt to conceal the animal. On October 10, 2009, Benfield removed his tree stand from the area in an effort to conceal the fact that he had killed the panther. On the same date, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer located the dead panther in a section of thick vegetation, in the Woodland Grade area. The officer determined that the dead panther had been dragged approximately 50 yards.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory conducted a genetics analysis of a tissue sample taken from the carcass and determined that it was a Florida Panther.
The Endangered Species Act makes it a federal Class A misdemeanor to knowingly "take" an endangered species of wildlife. The term "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The Florida panther is the last subspecies of Puma still surviving in the eastern United States. Historically occurring throughout the southeastern United States, the estimated 100 to 160 panthers are found in south Florida, in less than five percent of their historic range.
"This investigation is the successful culmination of a three-year joint investigation led by The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement, with support from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Joint Wildlife Crime Scene Response Team, and the U.S. Attorney's Office," said Andrew Aloise, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This investigation demonstrates our dedication and determination to solve these types of serious wildlife crimes, regardless of how long it takes. We hope this helps serve as a deterrent to help support the recovery of the Florida Panther."
Agencies involved in this investigation included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, National Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Division of Law Enforcement, Collier County Sheriff's Office - Crime Scene Investigation, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami - Dade Crime Laboratory, and the Joint Wildlife Crime Scene Response Team (Members include: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service-Office of Law Enforcement, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Division of Refuge Law Enforcement, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Collier County Sheriff's Office, Collier County Sheriff's Office - Crime Scene Investigation), and the United States Attorney's Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jeffrey F. Michelland
Permanent Captivity Likely for Injured Panther Kitten
For immediate release: May 9, 2012
Contact: Kevin Baxter, 727-896-8626
Photos and video available on FWC's Flickr site: Go to http://ow.ly/aNqr3
An endangered Florida panther kitten rescued after an apparent vehicle strike in Southwest Florida will likely be unable to return to the wild. Staff from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found the kitten unresponsive on April 23 along State Road 82 in Collier County. A volunteer with the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge on his way to work spotted the injured kitten that morning and reported the sighting.
Rescuers immediately took the then 12-week-old male kitten to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples for treatment. Although veterinarians at the hospital found no major fractures and no signs of significant internal damage, they believe the panther experienced some level of head trauma.
"Unfortunately, this kitten's condition makes it unlikely that he will recover enough to be released into the wild," said Dave Onorato, FWC biologist. "We're grateful to the staff at the Animal Specialty Hospital, who have worked tirelessly caring for him."
The kitten is being transferred to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for further rehabilitation. This is the third kitten and seventh panther overall to receive rehabilitation at the zoo. The kitten's prognosis is guarded.
A male panther kitten, believed to be this kitten's brother, died April 7 from injuries also consistent with a vehicle strike.
Collisions with vehicles are the top human-related cause of panther deaths. More than a third of panther deaths documented last year were the result of vehicle strikes. Drivers are encouraged to slow down and drive carefully in rural areas where panthers are known to live. An estimated 100 to 160 adults of this federally endangered species live in the wild.
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.
Florida residents can support panther conservation efforts through the purchase of a panther license plate at BuyaPlate.com. Fees from these license plates are the primary funding source for the FWC's research and management of Florida panthers.
For more information on Florida panthers, go to www.FloridaPantherNet.org.
Georgia man sentenced for shooting Florida panther
August 24, 2011 USFWS NEWS RELEASE
Florida panther killed by David Adams in Troup County, GA on Nov. 16, 2008. Photo: Georgia DNR
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that David Adams, 60, formerly of Newnan, Georgia, was sentenced today in United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, after pleading guilty to the unlawful take of a Florida panther, a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
"Today's sentencing affirms our commitment to investigate violations of the federal wildlife laws intended to protect our Nation's most imperiled species," said Luis J. Santiago, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Adams was sentenced to two years probation, with a special condition of probation that he may not hunt or obtain a hunting license anywhere in the United States during the period of probation. In addition, he was sentenced to pay a fine of $2,000.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, on November 16, 2008, Adams shot and killed a cougar known as a Florida panther while deer hunting in Troup County, Ga. At the time of the shooting, Adams knew he was shooting at a species of cougar, for which there was no open hunting season in the State of Georgia. The bullet fired from Adams' gun entered the Florida panther in the rear portion of the rib cage by the right hindquarters just below the spine and lodged in the inside of the panther's right front shoulder.
The Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species since March 11, 1967. The Puma concolor coryi (the scientific name for the Florida panther) is a sub-species of the Puma concolor, which is known by many names such as, cougar, puma, catamount, and mountain lion.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the "take" of an endangered species. As defined within the Endangered Species Act, "take" means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The maximum penalties for criminal violations of the Endangered Species Act can result in imprisonment of up to one year, and/or up to $100,000 in fines.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for years to bring the Florida panther back from the edge of extinction. The population has been growing since its low point of less than 30 panthers in the wild in the late 1980s, to more than 100 to 160 adults today. Genetic testing showed this panther was an offspring of panther FP137 (South Florida).
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Law Enforcement Rangers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. Connect with our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/usfws, follow our tweets at www.twitter.com/usfwshq.
How are florida Panther's named?
Only panthers with radio collars are designated FP (Florida Panther). UCEP (Uncollared Florida Panthers) are those that were never handled. Panthers whose identifying number begins with a K (Kitten) are those neonate kittens that were handled in the den and received medical care and a transponder chip but not a collar. If the kitten is later captured and collared, it's identification changes from a K to a FP.
Therefore, when you read of a number of a panther being captured or killed and its identification begins with a K it could be a very young kitten or an older cat that received a transponder in the den but not a collar. By the same token, one designated UCFP could be a three month old kitten that was never handled.