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Contact: Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107
This action is canceled until further notice. On Tuesday, November 1, 2011, Florida panther K304 will be returned to the Preserve. The release of the cat will take place around 5:00 p.m. at the Burns Lake Campground and Backcountry Access site off from Burns Lake Road. The road is located approximately six miles east of State Road 29 and 13 miles west of the Oasis Visitor Center on U. S. 41. Turn north on Burns Lake road, drive one mile and the campground/access point is on the left.
You are invited to attend this resource management activity. Since the release site is accessible, Preserve management, and the FWC, feel that inviting staff, sister agencies and partners would be appropriate and safe for participants and the panther. However, no guarantee is made of seeing the cat beyond a brief glimpse as it runs into the woods.
This management activity is tentative due to a number of variables. A notification will be sent if any changes are necessary.
The day following the activity a press release along with photos and film footage will be provided to the media.
Background on K304
On October 25, 2010, through on-going tracking activity within the Preserve, it was discovered that the radio-collar of female panther FP102 was emitting a mortality signal. Upon reaching the site of the signal, National Park Service biologists found the remains of the cat. A subsequent necropsy confirmed that FP102 had died from wounds received during a fight. Five months earlier the cat had give birth to two male kittens. After the death of FP102, one of the offspring, K304, was discovered orphaned. His sibling was never found.
Upon discovering K304 the NPS, working closely with the FWC and FWS, transported the kitten to the White Oak Conservation Center, a wildlife facility in northeastern Florida. At the facility K304 was cared for and housed in appropriate facilities with minimal human contact. Now K304, a young, healthy cat, is of the age that it can be released near the area it was born.