NAPLES — A $15,000 reward is being offered in the case of the shooting of an endangered Florida panther found dead in Hendry County.
The female panther was found April 21 near the Hendry Correctional Institution on private land bordering the Big Cypress National Preserve. The panther is believed to have been shot within a week of its discovery, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reported this afternoon.
The Fish and Wildlife Service special agents and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigators are working on the case.
While the Fish and Wildlife Service and Conservation Commission have put up $5,000 and $1,000, respectively, toward the reward, the bulk of the reward money is being contributed by a diverse group of organizations, from environmental groups to sportsmen's groups.
Other contibutors are the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, the Bergeron Family of Companies, the Florida Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, the Everglades Coordinating Council, the Florida Airboat Association and the Big Cypress Sportsmen's Alliance, according to today's announcement.
Anyone with information about the case should call the Fish and Wildlife Service at 239-561-8144. Those wishing to stay anonymous should call the Conservation Commission's Wildlife Alert Line at 1-888-404-3922.
With only about 100 panthers left in the wild, the panther is protected under the Endangered Species Act and by state law. Killing a panther carries a federal penalty of up to one year in prison, a $100,000 fine per individual and $200,000 per group.
State law makes it a third-degree felony to kill an endangered species. Violations carry a state penalty of up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine.