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FWC pausing plans to remove panther after livestock attack

Posted at 9:56 PM, Mar 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-08 06:10:52-05

IMMOKALEE, Fla. — A Florida panther has been killing livestock in Immokalee, taking eleven calves since late last year.

“It’s a problem," says Immokalee rancher, Jack Johnson.

That panther in question, a male known as FP260, was initially planned to be removed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but after backlash from other environmental groups, those plans were paused.

The Florida panther is considered a critically endangered species, with only about 130 left in the wild.

“Panther biologists that have studied and worked directly with not only FP260 but other panthers over the years have all indicated that they do not believe his behavior was abnormal and he does not show or have a demonstrable threat to human safety," says Meredith Budd with the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Those removal plans arw what prompted her to send a letter to FWS saying FP260's behavior didn't depart from normal or expected behavior.

She adds that recent calls for a meeting with FWS and the FWC needs to include compensation for ranchers who have lost cattle.

“Any meeting between agency officials and local stakeholders to discuss this further in terms of how to address FP260 and the issue of compensation needs to address that the decision made initially was inappropriate," says Budd.

But Johnson says that the behavior poses a threat to those who depend on livestock to make a living.

“It’s not a problem until it’s your money. And when you figure that each one of those calves is worth at harvest 900 dollars as a feeder calf that we ship out in the summer time - that’s 10 thousand dollars out of that rancher’s pocket," says Johnson.

“Everybody needs cause…but that’s a pretty costly cause for other people," he says.