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Contact: Bob DeGross, 239-695-1107
On Tuesday, November 29, 2011 Florida panther K304 -- now identified as FP194 -- was returned to Big Cypress National Preserve. The release of the cat occurred in a remote area of the Preserve around 7:30 p.m. near where the cat was removed in October of 2010. Due to transport timing and change of release area this activity was not open to the public as originally planned.
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 (NPS) 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 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), transported the kitten to the White Oak Conservation Center (WOCC), a wildlife facility in northeastern Florida. The Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund paid for K304/FP194's care while at White Oak.
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.
Early on November 29 the cat was captured and tranquilized within the holding facility at WOCC, fitted with a new radio collar by NPS staff and evaluated by Scott Citino, Center Veterinarian; Mark Cunningham, FWC Veterinarian and other White Oak Staff.
Upon return to the Preserve FP194 was 1.5 years old, 86 pounds and determined to be in good condition. NPS staff will monitor movements of the cat by tracking the new radio collar.
For Images and a short video related to this management action click here.