Injured Florida Panther Kitten in Rehab
This endangered Florida panther kitten was rescued after apparently having been struck by a car in the southwestern part of the state. The 12-week old male was taken to the Animal Specialty Hospital of Florida in Naples; while it has no major broken bones or internal injuries, trauma to its head probably means that it will never be released to the wild. Another male panther kitten, believed to be the brother of this one, died of injuries from a car strike on April 7.
2012 has been a brutal year for Florida panthers, with at least 12 perishing so far this year out of total population of 100 to 160. As Tristram Korten reported in Sierra, roughly 20 percent of the entire population of Florida panthers is killed each year--many by collisions with cars, but equally as the result of "intra-species aggression," as panthers contend for increasingly small segments of suitable habitat.
"If you bring new people and cars into panther habitat, you'll kill panthers," says Frank Jackalone, the Sierra Club's senior organizing manager for Florida. "It's as simple as that."
PEER, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, is blaming the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service for failing to outline critical habitat for the panther, failing to block sprawling development in panther country, and for opening prime panther areas like the Big Cypress National Reserve to ORV traffic. “Soon," says PEER executive director Jeff Ruch, "the only place the Florida panther will be seen is in a zoo or adorning a personalized license plate.” Or, one might add, an animal hospital.
Image and video courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
PAUL RAUBER is a senior editor at Sierra. He is the author, with Carl Pope, of the happily outdated Strategic Ignorance: Why the Bush Administration Is Recklessly Destroying a Century of Environmental Progress. Otherwise he is a cyclist, cook, and father of two. Follow him on Twitter @paulrauber.