A wild Florida panther kitten about one month old was found two weeks ago by biologists working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. The kitten was birthed by a female adult panther that was raised as an orphan. This young adult was just released back into the wild in January of this year.
The birth of a Florida panther kitten is big news in the Sunshine State because there are only 80-120 remaining in the wild. It isn’t uncommon for adult Florida panthers to be killed by traffic in numbers of two or three in a month, or even a single weekend.
Panthers can travel great distances in the wild, but increasingly
Florida’s wild lands are being shrunk due to over development.Consequently, there is less land for these cats, so they are hemmed in by highways, freeways, parking lots, strip malls and residential developments.
Due to human activity, in the 1980s Florida panthers were nearly extinct. A subspecies had to be brought in from Texas in order to introduce fresh genes into the Florida reproductive pool. At that time, there may have been less than twenty Florida panthers alive and they were showing signs of inbreeding. Kinked tails, heart problems, undescended testicles, skeletal issues, and immune system problems are just some of the possible side effects of inbreeding.
The recently found kitten was given a health evaluation and had
a transponder inserted surgically for tracking purposes. Biologists said that many kittens don’t make it to adulthood for a number of reasons, but this one was in good condition.
As mentioned, its mother was an orphan because the adult female that gave birth to it was found dead by authorities. Florida Wildlife Commission workers took it to White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee where it was successfully raised into a healthy adult. Currently, this young adult female is about two years old. The care taking and rehabbing paid off in a big way when it gave birth to the kitten that was found by biologists in June.
Injured or dead panthers should be reported, to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or text [email protected].