May 29, 2017

Kittens.

"For the first time since 1973, panther kittens were spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River, which had formed the northern boundary of the panther’s habitat. In March, a pair of panther kittens tripped an automatic wildlife camera in the Babcock Ranch Preserve, a forested expanse thirty-five miles west of Lake Okeechobee. That means that a female panther swam across the Caloosahatchee and recently mated with a male panther on the other side. (Male panthers, which are larger and have a bigger range than females, have been spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River for many years.) The news cheered scientists and state environmental officials, who have been trying to coax a female panther across the Caloosahatchee for more than two decades."

From "The Return of the Florida Panther," by Dexter Filkins (in The New Yorker).

33 comments:

Bad Lieutenant said...

Aren't they properly called kits, or is it cubs?

Jim said...

If it's due to global warming, then that would be a good thing, right?

mockturtle said...

Here in AZ jaguars are making a modest comeback. Rare Jaguar Spotted

Jaguars are always 'spotted', of course...

Oso Negro said...

And, of course, the proposed border wall is worked into the story, which is probably the main reason it was published.

EDH said...

The New Yorker, eh?

Well, here's hoping a Trump shoots one on a day trip from Mar-a-Lago.

The news cheered scientists and state environmental officials, who have been trying to coax a female panther across the Caloosahatchee for more than two decades.

They should have asked Meade, didn't he do that with a cougar?

Ann Althouse said...

"Jaguars are always 'spotted', of course..."

LOL.

Leslie Graves said...

I'll be clicking that link to see if we get an explanation of the various tactics a scientist might use to try to coax a female panther to swim across a river.

Ann Althouse said...

"Aren't they properly called kits, or is it cubs?"

Maybe, but I blogged it because of "kittens."

mockturtle said...

And, of course, the proposed border wall is worked into the story, which is probably the main reason it was published. [Regarding the AZ jaguars]

Yeah, I noticed that. But they did state that the cats likely crossed over in terrain too rough to build a wall, anyway. They don't even know that the cats came from MX. Maybe they just keep a low profile. Beautiful part of the state, BTW.

Quaestor said...

Some biology -

Strictly speaking, all panthers are members of the genus Panthera. These include tigers, lions, leopards, and the jaguar. The Panthera are a natural phylogenetic group with distinctive anatomy. The easiest way to distinguish a panther from other cats is by listening. If it roars, it's a panther. The puma, or "mountain lion", is not a member species of the Panthera. The puma is in its own genus with one extant species, Puma concolor. Traditionally Puma concolor have been divided into two or three subspecies. However, modern genetic research has considerably eroded the validity of these sub-categories. A "Florida panther" is just a puma living in Florida.

Traditionally infant lions and infant tigers have been call cubs, whereas the offspring of domestic cats are kittens. Since cladistics indicates the puma is more closely related to the domestic cat than to any of the true panthers, the use of kitten is appropriate.

surfed said...

One crossed in front ofvme on Ft Caroline road a few years back. Caught him in my headlights. Magnificent animal. I walkn in the Florida woods armed with a pistol now.

Leslie Graves said...

So, from the article: It is believed that there are 200 of these panthers and in 2016, ***31 of them*** were killed by cars. Also, this is the only methodology described in the article for getting the female panthers to cross the river.

"The solution, to conservationists, was to create a land corridor that would lead panthers to the river and then north across it. In 1994, the State of Florida and the Nature Conservancy began assembling the property for the corridor. Today it is about thirty miles long and fifteen miles wide, and spans both sides of the Caloosahatchee, but more money is needed to complete it."

The article doesn't really explain how that land corridor leads panthers to the river. It isn't made clear how a female panther pushed out of the "tiny home range" of the primary population center by the need for open territory to harvest food from, which isn't already occupied by other panthers, would be able to tell the difference between land in the corridor bought up by the government to lead her to the Caloosahatchee, versus all the other land she might set foot on that doesn't lead in that direction.

Quaestor said...

surfed wrote: I [walk] in the Florida woods armed with a pistol now.

I trust you carry it in your hand with the safety off and the hammer cocked, otherwise a firearm is pretty useless against a predator as stealthy as a puma. Keep in mind this a cat shaped by a couple of million years to prey on whitetail deer. They aren't fast enough to chase a deer over more than a few meters, thus they rely on ambush tactics. If a puma really wants to make a meal of you, no "fast draw" technique is fast enough.

Fernandinande said...

"The Return of the Florida Panther"

I hope they had a nice vacation.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'll be clicking that link to see if we get an explanation of the various tactics a scientist might use to try to coax a female panther to swim across a river."

I pictured a lot of guys in glasses and lab coats on the north shore of the Caloosahatchee going "Here, kitty kitty."

Quaestor said...

I pictured a lot of guys in glasses and lab coats on the north shore of the Caloosahatchee going "Here, kitty kitty."

It might work.

Or they could take along a team of high steel construction workers. According to many feminists, these guys are past masters of the art of catcalling.

mockturtle said...

I pictured a lot of guys in glasses and lab coats on the north shore of the Caloosahatchee going "Here, kitty kitty."

;-D

Richard said...

Question: Why does the female panther cross the river?

Answer: To get laid.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse (9:19) and Quaestor, you two broke me up.

Comanche Voter said...

Out here in Los Angeles we don't have much in the way of rivers--but we do have freeways. We've also got a lot of mountain lions in the Santa Monicas, Santa Susanas, San Gabriels, and the Verdugo Hills. And what is a lonely mountain lion (male or female) to do when he or she needs a little "company" as it were. Well they have to cross a freeway. And a lot them don't make it across. Same goes for the bears that come down out of the San Gabriels. Two bears have been struck by cars on a local freeway in the last two weeks.

We have a resident mountain lion in the downtown Los Angeles Griffith Park. He really is on an urban island. Nobody can figure out how he managed to survive crossing a couple of freeways to get there.

He eats raccoons, dear, coyotes and the occasional koala that escapes from the Los Angeles Zoo. So far no female mountain lion has crossed the freeway equivalent of the Calossahatchie River to get to him.s What the heck, he may ultimately be a bachelor all his life.

Kevin said...

"That means that a female panther swam across the Caloosahatchee and recently mated with a male panther on the other side."

How do they know she didn't mate on the south side, regret her actions, and cross the river to get away from him?

mockturtle said...

If it roars, it's a panther.

If it screams, it's a mountain lion. A hair-raising sound if ever I heard one.

Ralph L said...

Panther kittens does sound like rattlesnake babies and jumbo shrimp.

Ralph L said...

How do they know she didn't mate on the south side, regret her actions, and cross the river to get away from him?
Because she would have run to the park rangers first. Or maybe all the single adult males of her preferred income level were on the north side.

wild chicken said...

Argh. So much fun to hike in the mtns now, knowing that there are so many more bears, lions an wolves about.

Thanks,enviro!

Left Bank of the Charles said...

I'd advise carrying a knife rather a gun while walking around Florida. The panther is going to get the jump on you. A knife is better for close quarters. For me it's another reason not to visit Florida.

And all the panthers getting hit by cars, a good 15% of the population annually if the estimates are to be believed. I've got to think the panthers are chasing the cars. Keep the windows rolled up!

rehajm said...

...the proposed border wall is worked into the story, which is probably the main reason it was published.

I campaigned heavily for a cat door on this blog.

Fprawl said...

Caloosa Indians , near crooked lake . You go panthers, you outlaasted the native tribe. I have two limestone
Arrowheads from the lakeshore near Babcock (furniture ) ranch. Florida nature yay

Clyde said...

This is a local story for me, since I live about three miles south of the Caloosahatchee. I've lived here for going on thirty years, did a lot of night driving along Daniels Parkway Extension (SR 882) between Lehigh Acres and Gateway (which is marked as a Panther Crossing and has a lower night speed limit), and I've never seen a Florida panther. There is a lot of other wildlife to be seen, though. Lots of gators, of course, as well as opossums, raccoons, snakes of various varieties, the occasional otter, and on a recent trip to Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve, I even spotted some wild piglets, which have been a nuisance since the Spaniards came. There are all kinds of water birds. I've heard tales of black bears wandering into nearby subdivisions, but that's rare. Southwest Florida is a beautiful place and a popular winter destination.

Alex said...

There is something calming about big cats.

traditionalguy said...

Apart from the rivers draining swamp, that part of Florida is mostly useless for raising fruits and vegetables, but it once was inhabited by settlers and Semonoles' run away cattle, after they killed off the panthers who were eating their cattle.

Now we reverse the progress with regress.

David Baker said...

"I've got to think the panthers are chasing the cars."

Actually, you're right. Out in the flat, remote Florida scrub west of Lake Okeechobee, panthers can see for miles. When a car crosses a male's territory, he'll run full-out to meet the "challenge" - not to fight, but to intimidate. But then it becomes a matter of timing; speeding car vs. running panther. If the panther beats the car to the point of intersection, he'll bound across the car's path in an awesome, leaping display. But sometimes they arrive at the exact same time, and collide.

As near as I can tell, speed is the Panther’s motivating factor. They don't challenge trucks and buses, or vans and SUV's, or even cars - unless they're speeding. That's what seems to get their dander up, and the faster the car is going, the quicker they're likely to respond. But even here they certainly do discriminate, apparently to conserve energy.

I observed this phenomena years ago while regularly driving across Route #80 en route to Ft. Myers, specifically between Lake Okeechobee (South Bay/Clewiston) and LaBelle, Florida.

Virtually Unknown said...

. That's what seems to get their dander up, and the faster the car is going, the quicker they're likely to respond.

Like trolling for pike.