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June 9, 2009

Reward Offered in Florida Panther Killing Case

The Humane Society of the United States

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally killing an endangered Florida panther. The dead animal was discovered April 21 near the Hendry Correctional Institute on private property bordering the Big Cypress National Preserve in Hendry County, Fla.

The Case:

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the female panther was shot within a week prior to discovery of her body. The Florida panther is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The person or persons responsible for the killing could face a federal penalty of up to one year of imprisonment, a $100,000 fine per individual or $200,000 per organization. In addition, State of Florida Statute 372.0725 makes it a third-degree felony to kill or wound any species designated as endangered or threatened. The state penalty is up to five years in jail and/or an up to $5,000 fine.

"The killing of this young panther is a tragedy for one of the country's rarest species and an affront to all those who work to protect these endangered animals," said Jennifer Hobgood, Florida state director for The HSUS. "The HSUS applauds the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for thoroughly investigating this incident."

The Florida panther exists in no other area of the world outside of Florida with a population estimated by the USFWS at only 100. The HSUS and Wildlife Land Trust reward is part of a total reward of $15,200 offered by a diverse group of organizations and private businesses.

Poaching:

Every year, thousands of poachers are arrested nationwide; however, it is estimated that only 1 to 5 percent of poachers are caught. Poachers kill wildlife anytime, anywhere and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways.

The Investigators:

Anyone with information about the case should call the USFWS Office of Law Enforcement in Fort Myers, Fla. at (239) 561-8144. Those wishing to stay anonymous should call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Line at (888) 404-3922.

The HSUS works to stop wildlife abuse and animal cruelty across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/wildlifeabuse for more information.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the web at humanesociety.org.

Since 1993 the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust, alone or in partnership with other conservation groups, has participated in the protection of more than 1.8 million acres of wildlife habitat in 37 states and seven foreign countries. On all properties owned by the Trust or protected by the Trust's conservation easement, both here and abroad, we prohibit recreational and commercial hunting and trapping and restrict logging and development. The Trust's commitment to these principles will never change as we continue to assist caring landowners to make their property permanent, safe homes for wildlife. Join our online community at wildlifelandtrust.org.

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