Wild felines

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:

Reduced to a U.S. population estimated
at 350 to 700 by the trapping boom
of the early 1980s, the North American lynx
may now be the most notable casualty of the
Congressionally imposed moratorium on protecting
additional species under the
Endangered Species Act. U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service biologist Lori Nordstrom
recommended in 1994 that the lynx be given
federal protection, beyond the limited protection
already extended by 13 of the 20 states it
once inhabited. However, with the ESA up
for renewal and so-called “takings” of property
rights to protect endangered species a hot
topic in the 1994 Congressional election campaign,
the USFWS denied the listing. The
denial is contested in a recent lawsuit filed by
Jasper Carlton of the Biodiversity Legal
Foundation, with 12 other organizations as

Genetic testing done by Stephen
J. O’Brien of the National Institutes of
Health reportedly established in February
that the parents of a panther captured near
Waldo, Florida, in April 1995 were two of
19 Texas cougars released in a 1993 study of
the feasibility of restoring the Florida panther
population, endangered almost to the vanishing
point. The male Texas cougars, close kin
to Florida panthers, were all purportedly
vasectomized, but one, dubbed T-33, sired
three litters of kittens, who were supposedly
caught when their parents were recaptured in
early 1995. Hoping the Waldo cat was a
Florida panther, whose presence could keep a
regional dump out of their coonhunting
woods, a Florida hunt club last year reported
his presence to the Florida Game and Fresh
Water Fish Commission––who trapped him
and gave him to an unidentified Florida
wildlife dealer, along with seven of the other
translocated Texas cougars. “Unknown to the
state,” reported Rick Barry of the T a m p a
T r i b u n e, “the Florida dealer sold them to a
South Carolina dealer, who sold them to a
Missouri dealer, who sold them to a Texas
dealer, who is known to provide big game
animals to private hunting preserves,” a.k.a.
canned hunts. However, Barry added,
“Because the state failed to confer with the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the cats’
disposition, a requirement of the federal
Endangered Species Act––and because
‘Waldo’ had become a cause celebre in north
central Florida––the state tracked him down
and flew him back to Florida.” Questioning
the genetic evidence, partly because Waldo
appears to be too old to be the son of T-33,
Sarasota In Defense of Animals is demanding
that Waldo be returned to south Florida and
On January 4, the Florida Game
and Fresh Water Fish Commission took in
another cougar––a severely malnourished
cub whom a Pinellas County couple had purchased
from an Oklahoma dealer.
Malnourished and dehydrated, the cub was
confiscated after the couple inquired about
licensing. “He hadn’t walked in three
weeks,” said veterinarian Leigh McBride. “I
don’t think he would have been alive in
another 24 hours.” Upon recovery, the cub
was to be transferred to an exhibition at the
Homassa Springs State Wildlife Park.

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