SUNRISE, Fla. - As one of the four pillars of the Florida Panthers Foundation, the preservation and revival of the endangered Florida panther population in South Florida has long been near and dear to the heart of the Florida Panthers organization and its off-ice community endeavors.
For that reason, the organization believes that is important to spread the word regarding a new and troubling discovery regarding the Florida panther. Recently, a number of Florida panthers and bobcats have been shown on camera displaying rear leg weakness and difficulty walking.
As of August 2019, trail camera footage has captured footage of eight Florida panthers and one adult bobcat displaying varying degrees of this condition in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is currently searching for crucial information regarding this unusual behavior and has released some footage in hopes of drawing attention to the situation.
"While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue." said Gil McRae, director of the FWC's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute. "Numerous diseases and possible causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined. We're working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition."
In hopes of aiding in that effort and getting to the bottom of this problem, the Panthers would also like to use the team's platform to reach out to fans and encourage them to send any photos or videos of similar incidents involving any animals that could help with the FWC's investigation.
If you or someone you know has videos, photos or any information regarding affected Florida panthers or other animals in the area, please reach out to Panther.Sightings@MyFWC.com.
The state's official animal since 1987, the Florida panther remains one of the most endangered mammals in the world, with anywhere from 130-230 estimated to currently be living in the wild.
For more information, visit MyFWC.com's FAQ page HERE.