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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Monday they are investigating a disorder detected in some Florida panthers and bobcats.
Officials said all of the affected animals have exhibited some degree of walking abnormally or difficulty coordinating their back legs.
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As of August 2019, the FWC said they had confirmed neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat.
Trail camera footage has recorded eight panthers, mostly kittens, and one adult bobcat displaying varying degrees of this condition.
FWC said videos of affected cats were collected from multiple locations in Collier, Lee and Sarasota counties. Also, at least one panther photographed in Charlotte County could also have been affected, according to the state.
The agency said they have been reviewing videos and photographs from other areas where panthers live in Florida, but they believe the condition appears to be localized since it has only been documented in three general areas.
“While the number of animals exhibiting these symptoms is relatively few, we are increasing monitoring efforts to determine the full scope of the issue.” said FWC Fish and Wildlife Research Institute director Gil McRae. “Numerous diseases and possible causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined. We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition.”
The state is testing for various toxins, including neurotoxic rodenticide (rat pesticide), as well as infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies.
The public can help the FWC by submitting videos that show panthers and bobcats that appear to have this problem.