FWC still investigating disorder impacting Florida panthers, bobcats

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Florida panther
Florida panther (FWC)

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is still working to investigate a disorder detected in some Florida panthers and bobcats.

The affected animals have shown varying degrees of rear leg weakness that lead to difficulty walking.

To date, the FWC says it has confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat through necropsy. Results from a second panther are pending.

Additionally, trail cameras have captured nine panthers, mostly kittens, and four adult bobcats displaying signs possibly consistent with this condition.

The FWC is taking this situation seriously and is increasing its monitoring efforts to locate affected animals.

Back in July 2019, the FWC found video footage from a trail camera showing a female panther in Collier County that exhibited symptoms associated with the condition.

That panther had young kittens that likely would not have survived in the wild. They were removed for observation and testing by FWC. The Commission says the monitoring of the kittens as they age may provide valuable information pertaining to the cause of this condition.

Trail cameras also documented that the adult panther’s health was deteriorating and in October, the decision was made to remove her from the wild. FWC decided to have the panther humanely euthanized due to her poor condition and the unlikelihood of recovery or improvement.

The panther underwent complete necropsy and the results of extensive diagnostic testing are pending.

The FWC and collaborators have increased monitoring efforts for this condition via the deployment of video trail cameras in areas where the condition has been most frequently documented.

The FWC says it appreciates the support it’s received from the public as well as their assistance as citizen scientists. It encourages the public to continue to submit footage and photos of wildlife that appear to have issues with their rear legs.

You can send those here or report dead or injured panthers to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922)

The FWC and collaborators continue to conduct extensive testing; however, a cause for this condition has not yet been determined.

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