FWC Documents Panther Kittens North of Caloosahatchee River

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has announced its verification of the presence of at least two panther kittens north of the Caloosahatchee River in southwest Florida. These kittens are presumed to be the offspring of the first wild female panther documented north of the river since 1973.

“This is good news for Florida panther conservation,” said Kipp Frohlich, deputy director for the FWC’s Division of Habitat and Species Conservation. “Until now, we only had evidence of panthers breeding south of the Caloosahatchee. These pictures of a female with kittens indicate there are now panthers breeding north of the river.”

Using trail cameras, biologists have monitored male panthers on various public and private lands north of the Caloosahatchee River for several years. In 2015, biologists collected a photo of what appeared to be a female panther in the FWC’s Babcock Ranch Preserve Wildlife Management Area in Charlotte County. They deployed additional cameras in the summer of 2016, and captured more images of what they believed to be a female panther.

“Early this year, the cameras captured images of a female that appeared to be nursing,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “For many years, the Caloosahatchee River has appeared to be a major obstacle to northward movement of female panthers. This verification of kittens with the female demonstrates panthers can expand their breeding territory across the river naturally.”

The FWC works closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure panther conservation on both private and public lands. Staff also work to continue building support and cooperation among private landowners who maintain working landscapes and ranches that provide important habitat for panthers.

You can help with panther research by reporting panther sightings, and uploading photos and videos to the FWC at MyFWC.com/PantherSightings.

For information about Florida panthers, including tips on how to safely coexist with them, visit MyFWC.com/Panther.

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