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FWC: First female panther spotted north of Caloosahatchee in over 40 years

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 13:57:57-05

LEE COUNTY, Fla. -- Biologists are encouraged by the evidence of a female Florida panther being spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River for the first time since the early 70's.

Florida Fish and Wildlife says a trail camera captured images of what appears to be a female panther north of the river in early November.  Further investigation into panther tracks in the area confirmed the likelihood of them being from a female.

Currently, the only known breeding population of panthers is south of the Caloosahatchee River. 

In 2015, biologists collected a photo of what appeared to be a female panther in Charlotte County. They deployed additional cameras in the summer of 2016 and captured more images of what they believe is a female panther. However, the photographs did not positively confirm the gender.

Several male panthers have been found north of the river for years.

The news has been encouraging for biologists.  “This appears to be the milestone we’ve hoped for. We have been working with landowners to secure wildlife corridors to help panthers travel from south Florida, cross the river and reach this important panther habitat,” said Larry Williams, state ecological services supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Florida panthers are part of our state heritage. They’re our state animal,” said Frohlich. “We want to ensure these majestic animals are here for future generations of Floridians. Female panthers moving north of the river on their own is a big step toward this goal.”

For information about Florida panthers, including tips on how to safely coexist with them, visit FloridaPantherNet.org.