A 2-year-old male panther is back home in the wild. Outfitted with a tracking collar strapped around his neck, now known as FP 250, the big cat that was near death roughly eight months ago was released on February 16th by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) at Dinner Island Ranch Wildlife Management Area, in southwest Florida.
The panther’s recovery and release culminated a cooperative effort by FWC and its partners including White Oak Conservation, a respected Nassau County nonprofit known internationally for its work to save endangered species and habitats.
“Rehabilitating a panther to release back in the wild is challenging because of the care and treatment they require,” said Carli Segelson, a FWC spokesman. FWC is fortunate, she said, to have partners like White Oak as well as a Naples specialty veterinary hospital and the Tampa Zoo, which also provided care for the feline.
FP 250 barely escaped becoming road kill—the leading cause of death for his species.
“He was in pretty rough shape for a while,” said Brandon Speeg, director of conservation at White Oak.
The panther almost died when he was hit by a car last June on a Collier County highway. FWC panther biologists and veterinarian rescued him from the side of the road.