Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Man pleads guilty to shooting a Florida panther

Panther shot with a bow and arrow
May 2012. 45 year old Todd Alan Benfield pled guilty to shooting and killing a Florida Panther, in violation of the US Endangered Species Act. Benfield faces a maximum penalty of one year in federal prison, a fine of up to $100,000, and forfeiture of weapons and other equipment used to kill the animal. 

Benfield was bow hunting in Collier County, using a tree stand to hunt for deer. From his tree stand, Benfield knowingly shot and killed a Florida Panther. The following day, Benfield and an associate moved the panther into the Woodland Grade area, in an attempt to conceal the animal. Benfield then removed his tree stand from the area in an effort to conceal the fact that he had killed the panther. A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer located the dead panther in a section of thick vegetation, in the Woodland Grade area. The officer determined that the dead panther had been dragged approximately 50 yards. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory conducted a genetics analysis of a tissue sample taken from the carcass and determined that it was a Florida Panther.
The Florida panther is the last subspecies of Puma still surviving in the eastern United States. Historically occurring throughout the south-eastern United States, the estimated 100 to 160 panthers are found in south Florida, in less than five percent of their historic range.

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