Panther's days of tomcattin are definitely over
By WILL ROTHSCHILD
Don Juan is no longer on the prowl.
For just the second time, wildlife officials have removed a
The removal of
The 11-year-old cat is believed to have sired about 30 offspring.
But it was the chicks he chased in his spare time that eventually got Don Juan into trouble.
Biologists confirmed that the radio-collared cat, which lived in Big Cypress National Preserve, was responsible for a number of recent kills of domesticated chickens -- as well as a hog, a turkey and a house cat -- since Feb. 9 in the Ochopee area along U.S. 41 in
The panther was tranquilized Thursday night and is being held at a lab in
In 2004, an 8-year-old male panther was removed from the wild after preying on animals in a petting zoo in southeastern
Though only 80 adult
Now, there are none outside of
"We feel we have an adequate deer population to support the panthers that are there now," Big Cypress biologist Deborah Jansen said. "But we are trying to determine if we're at the carrying capacity in Big Cypress."
Scientists said the decision to remove the panther was difficult. Ultimately, a group of scientists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation on Commission decided it made sense for three reasons:
At 11, the cat was at the upper range of the panther's expected life span.
Its reproductive success had contributed mightily to the survival of the species.
Leaving a panther that had developed a taste for domesticated animals could do more harm to the long-term recovery of the species than removing it.
"A couple of bad panthers can really make recovery tougher because you need to have public support," said Laura Hartt, an environmental policy specialist with the National Wildlife Federation.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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