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http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100217/BREAKING/100219794/-1/NEWSSITEMAP
HeraldTribune.com

Panther sighted on Carlton Reserve

By Kate Spinner

Debbie Blanco, land manager for the Carlton, took a plaster cast of one of the panther footprints and sent it to state wildlife officials for confirmation.

Debbie Blanco, land manager for the Carlton, took a plaster cast of one of the panther footprints and sent it to state wildlife officials for confirmation.

SOUTH SARASOTA COUNTY – A Florida panther is roaming the Carlton Reserve east of Venice for the first time since 2005, wildlife officials have confirmed. The panther, thought to be a young male, was spotted by an employee of the Southwest Florida Water Management District on Feb. 5.

Debbie Blanco, land manager for the Carlton, took a plaster cast of one of the panther footprints and sent it to state wildlife officials for confirmation. The cast was recently confirmed to be from a panther.

An e-mail from Friends of the Carlton Reserve: While disappointing in quality, the photo seems to show a panther. Careful measurement of camera to cat distance, the height of surrounding vegetation, and the relative size of a doe in the same location taken by the same camera the following evening suggest a panther. When we combine the staff naturalists unobstructed observation, the plaster cast of confirmed prints 581 feet from where a time-dated photo was taken only days before, we believe we have another panther in Sarasota County. PHOTO PROVIDED / FRIENDS OF THE CARLTON RESERVE

An e-mail from Friends of the Carlton Reserve: While disappointing in quality, the photo seems to show a panther. Careful measurement of camera to cat distance, the height of surrounding vegetation, and the relative size of a doe in the same location taken by the same camera the following evening suggest a panther. When we combine the staff naturalist's unobstructed observation, the plaster cast of confirmed prints 581 feet from where a time-dated photo was taken only days before, we believe we have another panther in Sarasota County. PHOTO PROVIDED / FRIENDS OF THE CARLTON RESERVE

Panthers are extremely rare north of the Caloosahatchee River, but not unheard of. Between 1999 and 2005 a male panther took up residence in east Sarasota County, roaming the Carlton, Myakka River State Park and the Pinelands Preserve.

It is unclear whether the panther spotted this month will remain in the area.

Only male panthers have been confirmed north of the Caloosahatchee. The only breeding population of the endangered cats is in South Florida, near Naples. An estimated 100 to 120 Florida panthers exist in the wild.

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