Immokalee, panthers & cattle in the New York Times
Special from the New York Times' Green Blog: (Judge for yourself the accuracy of some statements)
Ranchers in south Florida have long been accustomed to losing calves to coyotes, buzzards, even alligators. They may have to steel themselves for another predator: the Florida panther.
Until very recently, the endangered cats were no threat to Florida cattle. The panther nearly went extinct in the 1970s, when as few as 20 cats remained in the wild. But since a project in the 1990s introduced eight female panthers from Texas that successfully mated with local cats, there are now as many as 160 adult cats in south Florida, said Dave Onorato, a researcher with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The program also introduced much-needed genetic variation into the inbred population.
The first reports of panther depredation (the technical term for cattle loss to panthers) emerged in 2010. Among the first to notice something amiss was Liesa Priddy, a rancher who noticed that more calves than usual were missing at JB Ranch, which she owns and operates in Immokalee, a town in southwest Florida. Before long, ranch workers found a few dead calves with bite marks resembling those of a panther. Similar reports followed at other ranches, but there was little proof to back up these claims.
Read more in the New York Times.