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Toxin Exposure Eyed In Walking Abnormalities Among Florida Panthers

Photo courtesy National Audubon Society
Photo courtesy National Audubon Society

video courtesy of FWC

Wildlife managers are investigating whether toxin exposure is to blame for walking abnormalities seen in a small number of Florida panthers.

One of the things they’re looking at is toxic algae.

Trail camera footage has documented eight Florida panthers, mostly kittens, and one adult bobcat with hind leg weakness severe enough to cause them to fall as they walked.

Neurological damage was confirmed in one dead panther and one dead bobcat.

The affected animals are in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties in southwest Florida. A panther photographed in Charlotte County also may be affected.

Wildlife managers say they have ruled out many diseases and are testing for toxins like toxic algae and rat pesticide.

The Florida panther is the official state animal. It is the most endangered of the state symbols with a population of between 120 and 230 animals.

From FWC: Our biologists are investigating and need your help. If you have trail cam footage or videos that show an animal that appears to have a problem with its rear legs, please upload to our panther sighting webpage at  MyFWC.com/PantherSightings. For large files, please contact us at Panther.Sightings@MyFWC.com.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.