Untitled document
Wildlife Sanctuary Logo

501(c)(3) Non-Profit Organization | The Ellijay Wildlife Rehabilitation Sanctuary does not presently rehab migratory or birds of prey

Untitled document

News - Panthers in Georgia

The recent confirmation that a cougar shot and killed in Troup County, Georgia on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer land at West Point Lake, south of Hwy. 109 near La Grange should not alarm anyone. (see Related Articles below) Why? Because cougars are not man-eaters. Why? Because we don’t taste good to a cougar.

Cougars, more commonly known in the southeastern U.S. as Eastern Panthers, primarily feed on deer. Genetically, the Florida Panther and the Eastern Panther are the same animal, although cougars and panthers have up to 50 other colloquial names. Cougars will travel great distances for food and mating, and Georgia has a large deer herd. Over the years, deer populations in many states exploded as predatory animals were reduced in number. The controlled deer hunt hasn’t been a perfect solution.

Now, nature is taking its course. Florida panthers are migrating north to feed on the plentiful deer. The fact that someone actually saw and shot one is unusual. These animals are famously reclusive. Typically, they prefer dense underbrush and precipitous precipices for their haunts. They hunt in the underbrush and bear their young far from humans. Recent studies have shown that the reduction in their numbers has forced these animals to stake out territories as large as 400 square miles for a male and 100 square miles for a female. So, seeing one cat in a 400 square mile area is a feat indeed!

The Florida Panther killed near LaGrange, GA had traveled over 600 miles from the Everglades in Florida to search for a new territory. LaGrange is about 65 miles southwest of Atlanta and 140 miles from The Wildlife Sanctuary in Ellijay, GA, where the sanctuary houses three Eastern Panthers.

This is incredibly exciting news for the cougar species. The cougar, or Eastern panther, has been listed as extinct in the wild in Georgia. Keep your eyes out and report sightings to wildlife@ellijay.com. If you would like to actually see this animal, please call The Wildlife Sanctuary at 706-276-2980 to arrange for a private tour ($50.00) or join us on Sept. 13, 2009 at our next Family Day tour ($10) and amphitheatre presentation called, “Your Wild Friends.”

Related Articles:

Panther shot in Georgia came from Florida

Officials initially thought the cat had escaped from captivity
By Steve Visser

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution August 7, 2009
A deer hunter last November shot the panther when he observed the cat from his tree stand.

The panther a hunter shot last year in Troup County was a Florida panther which likely wandered north, officials said Wednesday after genetic testing showed it was a federally protected animal.

Genetic testing by the National Cancer Institute, Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, indicated that the panther came from a resident southern Florida population, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced.

The hunter reported the killing to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and has not been charged in the case.

Authorities took the animal to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens where an examination revealed the cat had been in excellent nutritional condition. Because panthers had not been documented in Georgia for years, authorities initially suspected the animal escaped from captivity but now they believe the young male had wandered from Florida in search of his own hunting territory.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the case because the Florida panther is a federally protected species. The cats once ranged throughout the southeastern United States but now the population is estimated to be limited to 100 to 120 panthers in south Florida — less than five percent of the historic range.

Authorities know the cats range beyond the Everglades because some have been killed by cars on roads in the Florida Panhandle.

“Finding a Florida panther that far from southwest Florida is out of the ordinary, but male panthers, particularly younger ones, can travel great distances,” said Paul Souza, Field Supervisor of the South Florida Ecological Services Office. “While it’s unusual for panthers to be seen that far north, it is not impossible for a young male to travel so far.”

Cougar killed in western Georgia on November 17, 2008

Hunter Kills Cougar in Georgia
The Chattanoogan posted November 18, 2008

Hunters around Georgia’s West Point Lake might be led to believe that Georgia has a new predator roaming the woods – the cougar.

A Sunday kill of a male cougar on U.S. Army Corps of Engineer land at West Point Lake, south of Hwy. 109 seemed to verify that thought. However, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Division, this simply is a one-time experience.

“Though cougar and panther sightings persist in Georgia, there are no known native populations of these animals roaming the woods,” advises Wildlife Resources Division Region Supervisor Kevin Kramer. “There is no reason to believe there are any more cougars out there. This likely is a unique experience and while exciting, is not something for which we should be concerned.”

The cougar, taken near the Abbottsford community west of LaGrange, was a male, 88 inches in length measured from the nose to the tip of the tail and weighed approximately 140 pounds. The hunter who took the animal was legally hunting deer from his tree stand at the time the cougar approached.

Initial external examination by Wildlife Resources Division biologists found no tattoos, tags or collars, and the cougar had not been declawed.

Further examination by The Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens Monday afternoon confirmed the cougar to be healthy and well fed. Researchers determined the cougar had a very low parasite level and that the pads on all four feet were scuffed. According to SCWDS staff, these findings are consistent with a captive reared cougar, not a wild specimen.

Due to the fact that there are no known native populations of cougars in Georgia, no permitted cougars in this area and that the closest Alabama facilities permitted to house cougars (in Elmore and Macon Counties) have accounted for all permitted cougars, the animal taken Sunday likely escaped or was released from a non-permitted individual.

There currently are no leads as to who may have most recently held the animal, but the Division will continue to look into all possibilities

 

Cougar is Killed in Troup County

WRBL – Columbus, GA
by Tim Reid Anchor/Reporter
November 18, 2008
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is investigating a case involving a cougar that was shot and killed by a hunter. It happened Sunday at West Point Lake in Troup County near highway 109 just west of LaGrange. The news about the 140 pound cougar lurking in the woods had some residents concerned. Ruth Blair and her good friend 99 year old Jewell Cumbee didn’t know that a cougar was prowling not too far from Cumbee’s home over the weekend. Park rangers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say a man was deer hunting in a tree stand at West Point Lake. The cougar got too close, and the man had to kill it to protect himself. “Its scary to think about it because she’s ninety nine and I’m fifty seven. So its scary” Ruth Blair said. Park ranger Susan Fuller says folks should not be alarmed. According to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, this was an isolated incident. There are no wild populations in Georgia. The nearest population of the wild animals is in southern Florida. The hunter that killed the cougar was hunting legally. Experts believe the animal was held in captivity and likely escaped or was released.

Signs show 140 pound cat was not living in the wild

November 19, 2008

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/news/story/514377.html
By Tim Chitwood – tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.com –
A cougar killed Sunday in Troup County was so well fed it was fat and had other characteristics consistent with an animal that had been held captive, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said Tuesday.

The cat weighed 140 pounds and measured 88 inches from its nose to the tip of its tail.

State investigators said the male cat had a “very low parasite level,” an indication it had not been feeding on wild game.

The pads on its paws were also scuffed in a manner common to animals that have been on concrete rather than roaming the woods.

This evidence is “consistent with a captive, reared cougar, not a wild specimen,” according to the Southeastern Wildlife Disease Study in Athens, Ga., which inspected the carcass.

The DNR is emphasizing such findings because it occasionally gets reports from residents who say they’ve spotted what appear to be wild cougars roaming the woods.

DNR wildlife biologists maintain no wild population of the Eastern cougar or mountain lion remains in Georgia, and the nearest breeding population is in southern Florida, where the cat’s called the Florida panther.

The cougar was shot Sunday morning by deer hunter David Adams of Newnan, who was perched in a tree stand on U.S. Corps of Engineers land near the community of Abbottsford, west of LaGrange, Ga., on the Alabama border, the DNR said.

Adams was hunting legally and violated no regulations by shooting the cougar, authorities said.

No longer considered a native species in Georgia, the cougar is not protected here as a threatened or endangered animal.

Wildlife biologists examining the carcass found the cougar had not been collared or tagged; it had no tattoos; and it had not been declawed.

The DNR said the nearest facilities permitted to hold cougars are in the Alabama counties of Elmore and Macon, where the permit-holders have accounted for their cats.

So the cougar killed Sunday likely was released or escaped from someone who had it illegally.

Panther shot in Georgia came from Florida

Officials initially thought the cat had escaped from captivity
By Steve Visser

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution August 7, 2009
A deer hunter last November shot the panther when he observed the cat from his tree stand.

The panther a hunter shot last year in Troup County was a Florida panther which likely wandered north, officials said Wednesday after genetic testing showed it was a federally protected animal.

Genetic testing by the National Cancer Institute, Laboratory of Genomic Diversity, indicated that the panther came from a resident southern Florida population, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service announced.

The hunter reported the killing to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and has not been charged in the case.

Authorities took the animal to the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study in Athens where an examination revealed the cat had been in excellent nutritional condition. Because panthers had not been documented in Georgia for years, authorities initially suspected the animal escaped from captivity but now they believe the young male had wandered from Florida in search of his own hunting territory.

The Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the case because the Florida panther is a federally protected species. The cats once ranged throughout the southeastern United States but now the population is estimated to be limited to 100 to 120 panthers in south Florida — less than five percent of the historic range.

Authorities know the cats range beyond the Everglades because some have been killed by cars on roads in the Florida Panhandle.

“Finding a Florida panther that far from southwest Florida is out of the ordinary, but male panthers, particularly younger ones, can travel great distances,” said Paul Souza, Field Supervisor of the South Florida Ecological Services Office. “While it’s unusual for panthers to be seen that far north, it is not impossible for a young male to travel so far.”

bottom
Untitled document