TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) – A reward of up to $5,000 is being offered by the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for information on the intentional killing of an endangered Florida panther.
The female panther was found dead east of Immokalee in Collier County on March 8, during the opening weekend of the spring turkey hunting season in South Florida.READ MORE: Miami-Dade, Broward County Public Schools To Continue Free Summer Food Distribution
A forensic examination of the panther carcass and other evidence indicated that the panther was intentionally killed and partially mutilated a day earlier, FWC officials said. The carcass was then transported at night and dumped in the area where it was recovered.READ MORE: WalletHub Survey Ranks Florida Second Most 'Fun State'; Miami Nightlife: 'Anything, But Affordable'
Florida panthers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Intentionally killing a Florida panther is punishable by up to one year in federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.MORE NEWS: SEE IT: Puppy Back With Owner After Dognapping At West Miami-Dade Animal Clinic Caught On Cam
Officials are asking anyone with information about the panther’s death to contact the commission or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.