Saturday, February 10, 2007

Young Florida panther makes way onto barrier island again

By Jeremy Cox
Friday, February 9, 2007

For the second time in as many months, a young male Florida panther has trekked its way onto Keewaydin Island, a state biologist said today.

Known as FP147, the panther’s radio collar revealed its location today near the middle of the 9-mile-long barrier island, said Darrell Land of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Land first picked up the panther’s signal on the island on Jan. 17, marking the first time a panther had been located on a beach of any kind since biologists began tracking them with radio collars in 1981. So, Land dubbed the cat “Beach Boy” in an e-mail message to colleagues.

During its initial island trip, Beach Boy stayed only about four or five days before returning to the wilderness south of U.S. 41 East and west of Collier Boulevard. At one point, he was frequenting the woods on a property that is being developed into a golf course and subdivision, to be called Treviso Bay.

Today, Land found the cat again on Keewaydin, which is sparsely developed and not reachable by road. To get there, Land suspects the cat must have paddled its way across the narrow Intracoastal Waterway.

Biologists fly over Southwest Florida three times a week to track radio-collared panthers.

Since Keewaydin lacks running room -- and, more importantly, female panthers -- Land doesn’t think the cat will stay long this time either.

While his taste in scenery is odd, Beach Boy’s behavior is typical of a young male panther, Land added. The cats often travel great distances to carve out their own slice of territory, which can range up to 200 square miles. Beach Boy was born nearly two years ago on Big Cypress National Preserve, about 50 miles away from Keewaydin.

With fewer than 100 left in the wild, panthers are among the most endangered species on the planet. _panther_makes_way_keewaydin_isl/?latest

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