Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Florida Panther: cat on the edge

Some moron killed a Florida panther, which is not only illegal but a very big deal when there may only be a hundred of them (and there were many fewer than that before conservationists, in a last-ditch measure, brought in a few healthy cats from Texas to strengthen the gene pool). 
The Florida panther has always lived on the edge, hemmed in by development, threatened by hunting (which used to be legal), and increasingly desperate to find mates and food.  The invasion of large constricting snakes competes with them for food in the southern half of the state.  The cat's legendary elusiveness hasn't helped it in the modern age: there are still roadkills every year. (Something I have pointed out in debates over why we don't have a dead sasquatch: if they exist. We SHOULD have one by now.) Anyway, the penalties for killing a Florida panther are severe, and one knucklehead was convicted of killing one in 2009 with a bow and arrow.
Jeff Corwin described an almost surreal sighting in his book 100 Heartbeats: "seemingly in slow motion, it floated to the ground...it was darker than panther's I'd seen in photos, more charcoal than sage... (afterwards) I couldn't stop thinking about the way the panther had seamlessly, effortlessly disappeared without turning a leaf."
Let's keep those few hearts beating.

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