Rare Florida Panther captured on video by Corkscrew Sanctuary volunteer
By WINK News
Story Created: May 26, 2009 at 1:24 PM EDT
Story Updated: May 26, 2009 at 1:27 PM EDT
COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - A rare daylight sighting of a Florida Panther was captured on video at Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary as it took a morning stroll on the sanctuary boardwalk. Panthers, typically shy and nocturnal, are rarely seen and prefer to avoid people.
The video was shot on the morning of May 12 at 8:15 a.m. as the panther walked from the pine flatwood across a prairie and into the cypress forest.
Mark Lotz, a panther biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), looked at the video and concluded that the panther is a female. He also said the risk of harm to a person who encounters a panther is low.
"Wild animals can be unpredictable and things can happen, but we have not had any issues in Florida," Lotz said. "Generally speaking panthers are shy and secretive and prefer to move about when there are no people around. If someone moves toward a panther or makes an aggressive move, such as throwing something or making a loud noise, they normally get up and get out of the area."
Seeing a Florida Panther is extremely rare and according to Lotz, Corkscrew is among the top three places in Florida that someone can see the cats, based on photos and videos FWC has received. Everglades National Park and Fakahatchee Strand are the other two parks where visitors have had the rare opportunity to see a Florida panther.
Critically endangered, less than 100 of these unique cats exist in Southwest Florida, according to the FWC. Its population is threatened primarily by loss, degradation, and fragmentation of its habitat as a result of urban expansion.
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, located at 375 Sanctuary Road West, in Naples, is open for visitors from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. everyday between April 11 and September 30. Between October 1 and April 10, Corkscrew is open to the public from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission to the boardwalk within one hour of closing is not allowed. The Sanctuary may close when severe weather threatens. For more information on admission fees, call (239) 348-9151.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org