Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Field Notes Archives

Third Annual Florida Panther Festival Highlights Living With Florida’s State Animal


Media contacts:
Ken Warren, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (772) 469-4323,

JoNell Modys, Naples Marco Island Everglades CVB, (239) 252-2425,

Shannon Miller, Defenders of Wildlife, (727) 823-3888,


Third Annual Florida Panther Festival Highlights Living With  Florida’s State Animal
Free Family Friendly Event Set For November 16, 2013 in Naples, Fla.


Naples, Fla. (November 5, 2013) – Ever wondered what a day in the life of a Florida panther is like?  Would you like to learn more about their hunting habits, how they establish territory and how they raise their young? How about going for a ride in a “swamp buggy” in Florida panther territory? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, the third annual Florida Panther Festival on November 16, 2013 at North Collier Regional Park in Naples, Florida is for you.

 The Florida Panther Festival is a free, family-friendly event designed to shed light on the plight of the endangered Florida panther through unique interactive activities such as presentations by panther biologists, a Living with Wildlife Pavilion, nature walks, children’s activities, a rural backyard demonstration, exhibits by various conservation agencies and much more. On the day following the festival, Sunday, November 17, a variety of field trips are available throughout southwest Florida where panthers roam.  Various fees apply to field trips.

 Get ready to enjoy tasty food and live music! Food vendors will include Fred’s BBQ, Rita’s Italian Ice, Russell’s Clambakes and Planet Smoothie. Scheduled performers include energetic acoustic rock duo The Acoustikats and Darrell House, who writes about the environment in his lyrics. 

 The Living with Wildlife Pavilion is this year’s star attraction. Visitors can see panther and bear tracking tools and get advice from experts on minimizing human-wildlife conflict. The rural backyard display adjoining the pavilion will show festival-goers what attracts wildlife to our backyards.  Guests will learn about safely living near not only Florida’s panthers, but also black bears, coyotes and alligators, too.

 “The Living with Wildlife Pavilion shows festival-goers that just a few simple changes can help keep your homes, pets and communities safe in wildlife habitat,” said Defenders of Wildlife Florida program coordinator Shannon Miller. “In turn, education and awareness helps protect wildlife too. Together, we can make Florida a great place to live for both people and the amazing creatures that call our state home.”

 Wildlife biologists will make fascinating presentations throughout the day. Presentations include living with wildlife challenges, the stories of panthers living in Big Cypress National Preserve and the role of prescribed fire in managing wildlife.  Filmmaker Elam Stofltzfus will share stories from his 100-day journey across Florida as part of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition.

On-site adventures include “Walk the Panther Mile,” a walk guided by Big Cypress National Preserve rangers. Visitors will uncover the secret life of Florida panthers, learn about their habitat and meet one of the preserve’s panther biologists. This free 1.5 hr walk requires advance registration and takes place two times Saturday morning. (For reservations, visit Free Nature Detective walks will also take place in the afternoon and are open to everyone first-come, first-serve. 

 "Our goals are for guests to celebrate the Florida panther and to increase their awareness of how to safely coexist with panthers, along with their livestock and pets," said Ben Nottingham, Refuge Manager of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge.  

 The Sunday field trips require advance registration. Choices include guided swamp buggy tours, trail hikes, bicycle rides and vehicle tours through and around Southwest Florida’s wonderful conservation lands (where visitors might get lucky enough to see one of these elusive animals) like Big Cypress National Preserve, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Picayune Strand State Forest, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Babcock Ranch, and a tour of Camp Keais Strand with Orange Jeep Tours.  Various costs apply to the field trips.  For more information on the festival or to make reservations for any of the activities visit www.FloridaPantherFestival.comor call 727-328-3888.

 For more information about Florida panthers, visit

The Florida Panther Festival is a collaborative effort by organizations including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Collier County Parks and Recreation; the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau; Collier County Audubon Society; Defenders of Wildlife; Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Big Cypress National Preserve; Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge; CREW Land & Water Trust, and Florida Gulf Coast University’s Wings of Hope Program.


Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.

From orphan to mother: FP219 has first kitten


News release

For immediate release: June 26, 2013

Contact: Kevin Baxter, 727-896-8626


Photos available on FWC’s Flickr site: Go to


Released female panther gives birth


Biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) have discovered that a female Florida panther rescued as an orphaned kitten and raised in captivity has given birth just a few months after her release back into the wild. Biologists found an approximately 1-month-old female kitten Saturday in the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park in southwest Florida, near where they released the young adult panther on Jan. 31.

“We were very excited to find this panther’s kitten,” said Dave Onorato, FWC panther biologist. “The fact that this panther has given birth is positive news for the recovery of this endangered species and a testament to the hard work of all involved in its rescue and rehabilitation.”

Biologists estimate the female panther became pregnant about three weeks after her release, when she was only 21 months old. That age is somewhat younger than the typical age of first conception for female panthers the FWC has documented.

While biologists are encouraged the female became a contributor to the population so quickly, it was not completely unexpected, given that her home range is within prime panther habitat.

After discovering the kitten over the weekend, biologists evaluated its health and tagged it for identification purposes to document whether it eventually becomes part of the adult population. An estimated 100 to 160 adult and subadult panthers remain in south Florida.

“Kitten survival rates are pretty low, but this kitten looked healthy and feisty,” said Onorato. “The kitten has a chance of one day contributing to the population as well.”

The FWC rescued the now young adult panther and its brother as 5-month-old kittens in September 2011 after their mother was found dead. They were then raised at the White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee until they were ready for release. The FWC released the male panther in April at the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area in south Florida.

Florida residents can support panther conservation efforts through the purchase of a “Protect the Panther license plate.” Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s research and management of Florida panthers.

 “The success story of this once orphaned panther giving birth in the wild following its rescue and rehabilitation would not be possible without license plate funds,” said Carol Knox, FWC’s Imperiled Species Section Leader.

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922), #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone, or text

FP224 has second surgery to repair refractured leg


A young Florida panther is recuperating after successful surgery on June 7 at UF’s Small Animal Hospital to repair a fractured right femur. The panther’s injury was likely caused by having been hit by a car in Collier County in May. It had received surgery previously and was recuperating at White Oak Conservation Center in Yulee, Fla. when it reinjured itself.

Dr. Daniel Lewis, a professor of small animal surgery at UF, performed the procedure, which lasted almost three hours.

The animal, thought to be approximately 9 months old,  was brought to UF’s Zoological Medicine Service the morning of June 7. Following completion of the surgical procedure, the female panther was then transported by Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission veterinarians back to White Oak, where her rehabilitation continues.

Watch a video report from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine here.

Would you like to help this panther?  Click on the "How can I help injured panthers" link to the left to find out how.