Sunday, December 06, 2015

How a Texas Lion Became a Florida Panther

The Naples Daily News comes this note:

One of the last remaining offspring of a genetic restoration project credited with saving the Florida panther from extinction was found dead this week.

The National Park Service tracked down the skeletal remains of a female panther Wednesday in a remote location in the Turner River unit of the Big Cypress National Preserve in eastern Collier County.

She was 17, a remarkable age for a panther in the wild, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission panther biologist Dave Onorato said.

This "Florida Panther" was born a wild Mountain Lion in Texas, and only became a "Florida Panther" thanks to a tranquilizer dart and a transport van.

Beyond saving the deeply inbred, and failing, gene pool of the big cats in Florida, this lion and her transport mates shattered a long-standing lie embraced by well-meaning land-preservation environmentalists who one claimed that Florida "Panther" was different from the Cougar or Mountain Lion of the American West.

It never was.  Not then, not now, and not in the future. It's always been on species, and with no subspecies that is recognized by the animals themselves.  Wild animals do not embrace human fiction, and it's the animals themselves that are the experts, not the   

In another bit of news, it turns out that the Mountain Lion shot in Bourbon County, Kentucky last year (and reported on this blog) was, in fact, treed by Aurora Rubel's Rhodesian Ridgeback, which is semi-employed to keep coyotes away from her very small working Jack Russell terriers.That's Aurora in the two pictures below. At top with 10-inch Wild Remains Sumo and a 17-pound ground hog, and below that with another dog and a very larger possum.

The good news is that there are more Mountain Lions coming east.  In September, a live Mountain Lion was photographed on a game camera along the Kentucky-Tennessee border.This lion is likely a young male on walkabout. The earlier Kentucky lion was a 4-5 year old adult male. 

It's only a matter of time before a female Lion comes east (or comes north from Florida) and things expand out from there.


jeff hays said...

There have been lion sightings here in New Hampshire for years, as child I saw one too while on a picnic, plenty of witnesses.
The Fish and Game Dept. has never verified any sighting, even with tracks.
MY opinion is there is a small number of young males roaming huge areas without finding any,or many,females. The chances of a viable Northeast population is quite small,and the last one was shot here years and years ago.They were native to New England.
As an aside to roaming ghost animals, a coyote hunter in Maine a few years ago was almost charged by the feds because what he shot was a WOLF and not a coyote.Probably roamed into Maine from Minnesota through Quebec.
With Apex wildlife, anything is really possible.

jeffrey thurston said...

I read the article- funny that Ms. Rubel uses a Ridgeback to defend her terriers- or is it to keep other animals OUT of harm's way? I'm pretty sure my two guys would dispatch a coyote- at least the scraggly 25 pounders we have around here. Too bad that mountain lion ran into the American Small Peenie-Weenie Mindset- killing it was obviously viagra to those two grinning idiots posing with it. Finally- I have to disagree (as usual) with the notion that sub-species don't exist even as I agree that sub-speciesness shouldn't be a reason to "protect" animals like the Florida Panther.

Amy Nexus said...

Although my state's DEEEP regularly shrugs off reports of mountain lion sightings, those of us who have traveled West in lion habitat know what we see. I've got bobcats/lynxes that I can track and spot on a regular basis, sorry but they aren't even close to looking like a mountain lion. In fact there was a mountain lion hit by a car in CT on the wilbur cross highway, so they had a body to study and had to reluctantly admit that yes, they are here. It was genetically related to Western lion populations and traveled East along the Canadian border and then followed the highlands in a southerly direction. They're migrating following an abundant food source, deer populations are at an all-time high in the Northeast. We've seen similar movements with wolves and larger coyotes. There may be too many humans here for breeding lion pairs to settle, time will tell.