Annual 60-Day ORV Closure for Wheeled Vehicles
Beginning at 12:01 am Monday, June 2, the annual 60-day recreational ORV closure for all units of the Preserve that allow for wheeled ORV access will begin. The closure will be lifted on Friday, August 1. More »
Secondary Trail Closure
Effective 8/1/2014, following the 60-day recreational ORV closure, only the designated primary trails in the backcountry will be open to recreational ORV use and access. All secondary trails will remain closed on an interim basis for an additional 60-days More »
All campgrounds but Midway and the loop in the Bear Island Campground are closed through August 29. More »
Interstate 75 Mile Marker 63 Closure
Beginning summer of 2013, the rest area and backcountry access at Mile Marker 63 will be closed due to construction. More »
FWC, USFWS & Partners Offer Reward for Information about Suspicious Panther Death
Contact: Bob DeGross, NPS, 239-695-1107
Contact: Katie Purcell, FWC, 850-459-6585
Contact: Ken Warren, FWS, 772-469-4323
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) are looking for help from the public with an investigation involving the suspected illegal take of a Florida panther that was recently found dead in the Turner River Unit of Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County.
For information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for killing the panther, the FWC's Wildlife Alert Reward Association and USFWS are offering a combined reward of up to $12,000.
The government agencies are also working with other conservation organizations including the Big Cypress Sportsmen's Alliance, Collier Sportsmen's Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Everglades Association, Everglades Conservation and Sportsmen's Club, Everglades Coordinating Council, Florida National Parks Association, Florida Wildlife Federation, Humane Society of the United States, National Parks and Conservation Association and South Florida National Parks Trust.
"We appreciate the support from a broad diversity of conservation organizations," stated Preserve Superintendent Pedro Ramos. "We all recognize how serious this situation is and know that working together increases the likelihood of a successful outcome to the investigation."
The dead panther was found with a suspected gunshot wound on Saturday, December 7.
"The cat was an 18-month-old female that was the offspring of 'Florida Panther (FP) 162,' a female panther that is collared and continues to be monitored within the Preserve," said Bob DeGross of the NPS.
It was handled by NPS staff in the den, along with a sibling male, in June of 2012, when a micro-chip was implanted and it was identified as "K 368."
The dead panther will eventually be transported to the USFWS forensics laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, for further analysis.
The Florida panther is protected under The Endangered Species Act. Under Florida Statute, people found guilty of unlawfully killing one can be charged with a third-degree felony and could face up to one year in prison and $100,000 in fines.
Anyone who wants to support the Wildlife Alert Reward Program should visit MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert or contact the FWC's Investigations Section at 850-488-6253 to learn more.
Related images found at - http://www.flickr.com/
Did You Know?
Airboats are one of the approved ways to access remote areas of Big Cypress National Preserve. Remember, all off-road vehicle access requires a valid permit, and visitors operating ORVs need to know the legal areas they can operate.