Many Floridians know about the fight to save endangered panthers that roam the state.
So they're sure to take heart at this success story from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Biologists there have released two endangered Florida panthers this year, a brother and sister that they rescued as kittens about a year and a half earlier.
FWC biologists captured the then 5-month-old kittens after their mother was found dead in September 2011. Without that intervention, the kittens likely would have died a short time later. The kittens were taken to the White Oak Conservation Center in northeast Florida, where they were raised until they were ready for release.
The female panther was released first, on Jan. 31 in the Picayune Strand State Forest in southwest Florida. Post-release monitoring has shown her adapting well and behaving as typical wild female panthers do.
The male panther was released on April 3 at the Rotenberger Wildlife Management Area in South Florida. Early monitoring has shown the male also acclimating himself well to the wild, however, biologists caution that young male panthers face the added survival challenge of encounters with older, established male panthers.
An estimated 100 to 160 adult and subadult panthers remain in south Florida. Florida residents can support conservation efforts like the rescue and rehabilitation of these panthers by purchasing a panther license plate at buyaplate.com.