Endangered Florida Panthers Afflicted with Neurological disease

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Endangered Florida Panthers, once were found throughout the Southwest of the US. However, due to mass hunting, their population decreased. By the 1970s there were only less than thirty left. Though, in the last couple of decades the Panthers have increased significantly. Now they are around 200, but still their future seems bleak.

One of the major obstacles in the population growth of Florida panther’s is the newly discovered neurological disease. The disease is known as feline leuk myelopathy (FLM). It causes limb weakness, or in some severe cases, partial paralysis. The animals often have trouble walking due to this.

Endangered Florida Panthers
(Image source: foxtv)

Since 2017, this neurological disease has so far afflicted 19 panthers and 18 bobcats throughout the states. To make the situation more worse, an additional 11 cases have been confirmed. Which include, three panthers and eight bobcats. Panthers were already afflicted by numerous threats such as fights over limited territory and vehicle collisions.

Panther team leader, Darrell Land works for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. He said, “There’s no smoking gun yet. That’s a little bit disturbing, because you’d think if there were a simple answer, we’d have it already.”

Another FWC’s lead panther biologist, Onorato believes that this neurological disease has the potential to disrupt the population growth. Furthermore he said that it is high time that the animals should be moved into a new territory. This could be one possible way to insulate them against new and growing threats. “FLM is kind of a wild card at this point—we don’t want to sound off the alarm bells too much but [it] could impact our progress toward recovery,” he added.

In addition to this, Cunningham said, “If the new disease persists at this same level it’s very possible we could see impacts to the population. This is really an unprecedented event in wildlife, at least in fields.”

For Florida Panthers optimistic future Wildlife corridors need to be preserved which will help them to expand their range to the north.

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