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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

As many Blog readers are well aware, southern Florida is the home of the only breeding colony of Pumas east of the Mississippi River.............Known locally as "Florida Panthers", the 100-230 big Cats that now live there were on the verge of "blinking out" until Fish and Wildlife folks transplanted some Texas Pumas into the population, reinjuvenating the population with an array of new genes..............With automobile deaths mounting, the Pumas really have needed to find additional room to roam north of the Caloosahatchee River(north of Naples)...........And finally, trail cameras revealed this year the first evidence of a mother Puma and her cubs living north of this river..............Hopefully, the big cats continue to multiply, spreading out amongst the remaining undisturbed habitat that still exists in northern Florida and beyond


Deer hunter films his up-close look at rare Florida panther

Deer hunter films his up-close look at rare Florida panther
BY Ethan Shaw; DECEMBER 12 2017
Wander the pinelands and palm savannas of southwestern Florida's outback, and it isn't hard to sense the presence of the region's unique variety of mountain lion. The Florida panther goes about its deer-, hog- and rabbit-stalking ways here in wraithlike fashion, and it's a red-letter day when you actually clap eyes on one of these ropey, sand-coloured, palmetto-prowling big cats.

Florida female Puma(Florida Fish &Wildlife photo)

A deer hunter in the wild and woolly Big Cypress National Preserve abutting the Everglades landed one of those red-letter days recently – and managed to document his thrilling close encounter on video.
According to FOX 13, Fred Lehman was staked out in full camouflage along a primitive road in the Bear Island area when a panther padded past mere yards away. Upon sensing the man, the cat broke into a trot and then loped off (the typical reaction to a human being for a Florida panther – or just about any puma, for that matter), only to resume its sauntering patrol farther down the track.

Big Cypress National Preserve (which allows closely regulated hunting) is part of the core of the Florida panther's remaining range, and its lightly roaded backcountry – and that of adjoining public lands such as Everglades National Park, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge and the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park – offer critical refuge for the puma in otherwise heavily developed and human-thronged South Florida.
The kitten of the Female Florida Puma(Florida Fish & Wildlife photo)

As mountain lions vanished from eastern North America, the Florida panther clung to existence as a completely isolated relic, and as a result, it claims the lowest known genetic diversity of any puma population; panthers display evidence of inbreeding, most conspicuously kinked tails. The Big Cypress Swamp (which Big Cypress National Preserve partly encompasses) as well as the Okaloacoochee Slough to the north sheltered most of the last surviving panthers in the 1960s and '70s when they dwindled to fewer than two dozen.

 Caloosahatchee River was finally breeched by Pumas,,,,,,now there is a small breeding colony north of the river

Today, conservation efforts have managed to nurse the panther population to perhaps as many as 230 adults; the gene pool got a boost in the 1990s when the US Fish and Wildlife Service trucked some mountain lions from Texas and released them into panther country (effectively mimicking the natural interchange that historically occurred when puma territory stretched continuously northward and westward from the Florida peninsula).

Efforts to bolster the cat's numbers, genetic diversity and range are complicated by the region's significant people-footprint. A disturbing number of panthers become roadkill on a regular basis – including along the two major paved highways that cleave Big Cypress, the Tamiami Trail (US Route 41) and "Alligator Alley" (Interstate 75) – although fencing and wildlife underpasses are showing signs of mitigating these dangers.

In Green(darker best habitat) potential Puma habitat north of the Big Cypress Swamp and the Caloosahatchee River

While roadways and subdivisions cramp the panther's style the most, there's also a natural feature that's long proved a tricky obstacle to its northward dispersal in southwestern Florida: the Caloosahatchee River. Lately, though, there's been encouraging news from that front. Thanks to the protection of habitat corridors linking to the river, more and more male panthers – much more disposed to wander than females – have swum it; one showed up in Georgia's Okefenokee Swamp a few years back. And in the biggest news yet, a trail camera earlier this year captured photos of a female cat and a pair of kittens north of the river: the first panther litter documented north of the Caloosahatchee in more than four decades.
As for Lehman, FOX 13 reports he didn't end up bagging a deer on his Big Cypress hunt, "but leaving without one, he was satisfied to have spotted the panther and capture video to show to family and friends."

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