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The Florida panther kittens will live in captivity at White Oak Conservation Center. Fort Myers News-Press

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Some people in Florida just don't like panthers. 

Although the majestic cats were on the brink of extinction just 20 years ago and are the official state animal, someone shot, killed and chopped up a Florida panther in March, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering $5,000 for anyone who can provide significant information on the killing. 

"The creature was shot and was dismembered after death, and anything beyond that the cops are still investigating," said Mark Davis, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency in charge of protecting endangered and threatened species. 

Panthers are listed as endangered and number between 120 and 230, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 

In other news: Florida farmers battle rising water and salt as sea water floods fields

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Most of those cats live south of Lake Okeechobee and in the historic Everglades. 

This panther was recovered along County Road 846 just east of Immokalee, a town somewhat known for its distaste for the state animal. 

Several farmers in that area have openly admitted that they'd like to see the state hold a panther hunting season.

Some hunters and farmers in that area have even said the species should be wiped out completely in order to protect calves, other livestock, domestic animals and game animals like deer and hogs. 

Environmental groups were surprised to hear that another panther has been shot and killed. 

Several shootings have occurred in South Florida over the past decade or so, although FWC doesn't release information on all shootings because some are still under investigation. 

"Obviously this is shocking and horrible," said Amber Crooks, with the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. "I know that this type of thing has happened a few times in the past. It’s really troubling because intentional take and purposely killing an endangered species is an extra threat to the species as a whole." 

Davis said panthers should be admired, not intentionally killed. 

"These creatures are protected and on top of that they're beautiful," Davis said. "And we want to protect them. We take seriously these sorts of thing and the investigation will remain open," Davis said. 

Intentionally killing a Florida panther is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and $100,000 in fines. 

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Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact FWC at 888.404.3922 or FWS at 844.397.8477. Information may also be emailed to Tip@MyFWC.com. 

Panthers are protected under the Endangered Species Act as well as state regulations, and one of the goals needed to down-list the panther include having three separate populations of 240 animals.

Connect with this reporter: @ChadGillisNP on Twitter. 

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