09 April 2013 Another Florida Panther in the Wild Posted by: Defenders of Wildlife | 10 comments | Share: Lisa Östberg, Southwest Florida Coexistence Coordinator Last week, I had one of the best days of my life: after many years of working as a volunteer and now for Defenders as its Florida coexistence coordinator, I had the opportunity to witness a Florida panther being released into the wild! ©Tim Donovan/FWC The panther was one of a pair of siblings orphaned back in 2011 when their mother was killed. They were taken to a special rehabilitation facility where they were allowed to grow to young adulthood with very little exposure to humans, and were taught to hunt and fend for themselves. The female of the pair was successfully released into the Picayune Strand State Forest a few weeks ago, and today the male was released into a very remote part of southwest Palm Beach County within the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area. I have never definitively seen a panther in the wild, although I’ve been the first on site at one roadkill and witnessed the “cleanup” at another. Today’s experience was a world away – away from that sadness, away from roads, away from people. The young panther was released on public preserve lands rife with prey like deer and hogs, which should provide this young male with lots of food as he learns to make his way in the wild. The release itself was over in almost a heartbeat: his crate was opened and for a few seconds we all waited in crazy suspense while he stayed tucked inside. But then, in an instant, he peeked out, looked to one side and then ran like crazy into the wind, and within a few seconds turned off the dirt road and into the woods. Quite simply, the experience was magical: seeing the hope on everyone’s face as this young male headed out to make his future in the wild was really special, and I know we all hope that he, and Florida panthers in general, can continue to survive and thrive in the wild. After just a moment’s hesitation, the panther takes off into the wild. (©Lisa Östberg) 10 Responses to “Another Florida Panther in the Wild” cathie April 10th, 2013 Such a great story. Thank Defenders for all you do. Nicole May 3rd, 2013 This is wonderful to hear about I could not imagine the exitement witnessing first hand. Thank you for sharing! Clarissa Jones May 3rd, 2013 I was brought up in Florida. I’m ecstatic to learn that those precious animals are being helped. Thank you. margaret Gottshall May 3rd, 2013 That is so wonderful keep up the great work U all are doing God Bless Judy May 3rd, 2013 You did a good job helping the young panther and keeping out of his way at the same time. Applause. Steve Lubin May 3rd, 2013 Did you take a video of the release? We would love to see it. Sharon May 4th, 2013 Thanks for saving these 2 cats. With their dwindling numbers each one is precious to the survival of the species. Heather Stewart May 4th, 2013 What a wonderful story. I hope both siblings have a long and happy life. Tim Oneill May 5th, 2013 Thanks for this encouraging news. maya gorina August 24th, 2013 I am so happy for this saved pantera life and its kitten! Thank so much to Jammie and all wildlife Defenders!Bravo! Happy birthday Kitten! Maya Gorina. Post Your Comment Click here to cancel reply. Name (required) Mail (required) (will not be published) You May also be interested in Wolf Weekly Wrap- Up California wavering on protection for gray wolves under state law; Defenders of Wildlife featured on the HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell show tonight; A close up look at the science: wolf breeding pairs in Idaho; bad bills for Mexican gray wolves in Arizona. The Votes Are In… You voted, and we listened – now the winners of Defenders’ 2014 Photo Contest are here! See if your favorite won, and take a look at some of the amazing runner-ups. We’ve Got to Protect What’s Left of the Sagebrush Sea New research shows that after a fire, the Sagebrush Sea (home to the imperiled greater sage-grouse) could take up to 20 years to fully recover. With other factors already threatening so much of this habitat, what does that mean for the species that call it home?