Georgia hunter fined for shooting rare Florida panther

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A Georgia man was fined $2,000 and sentenced to two years probation for the 2008 shooting of what turned out to be an endangered Florida panther that had wandered into Georgia.

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David Adams, 60, formerly of Newnan, killed the big cat Nov. 16, 2008, with a muzzleloading rifle while hunting from a tree stand on public Corps of Engineers land near West Point Lake in Troup County.

The healthy, 140-pound cat was first thought to be an escaped pet. Eight months later, however, tests performed by the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Genomic Diversity in Maryland confirmed it was a Florida panther - and a federally protected endangered species.

The sentencing, held in U.S. District Court in north Georgia, includes a stipulation that Adams may not hunt or obtain a hunting license anywhere in the U.S. during his probation.

Authorities say Adams knew he was shooting at a cougar, a species for which there is no open season in Georgia.

The Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species since March 11, 1967, giving it protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. Maximum penalties for violating the act include prison terms and fines up to $100,000.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for years to bring the Florida panther back from near extinction. The population has been growing since its low point of less than 30 panthers in the wild in the late 1980s, to more than 100 to 160 adults today.

The panther’s appearance in Georgia was unusual. The place where it was shot and killed is almost 600 miles from its known habitat. The cat was so healthy biologists speculated it was someone’s pet.

Georgia’s Wildlife Resources Division gets dozens of reported panther sightings each year, but rarely has evidence to back them up. Authorities say anyone seeing a panther should not shoot it, but can try to get photos or document its presence through physical evidence, such as tracks, droppings or kills.

One of Georgia’s best-known panther visits occurred in 1995, when 10 western cats were fitted with tracking collars and released in northern Florida as part of an experiment to determine if that region could be repopulated.

One of the male cats ended up in Burke County, Ga., before traveling along Brier Creek into McDuffie County. Eventually, it made its way to the Clarks Hill Wildlife Management Area near Thurmond Lake, where biologists recaptured it in February of that year and returned it to Florida.

During its travels through Georgia, the wandering panther never generated a single reported sighting.

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Sweet son
10555
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Sweet son 08/24/11 - 07:15 pm
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Good story Rob. How could

Good story Rob. How could anyone kill this magnificent animal? As for the Burke County panther I glimpsed the animal while deer hunting. The place I hunted was only 2 miles from Brier Creek. Just saw it's hind quarters and tail and never saw it again. Made my day and it was a hunt I will never forget. That guy should never be allowed to have another hunting license. To top it off he should have known better!!

Riverman1
84926
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Riverman1 08/24/11 - 07:38 pm
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There is scientific evidence

There is scientific evidence that the Florida Panther is not a distinct species, but the common North American Cougar. Not that it excuses the man killing the animal.

spotted_assassin
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spotted_assassin 08/24/11 - 07:46 pm
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I think I would have shot him

I think I would have shot him too! A big cat, and me trying to carry a fresh killed deer out of the woods with him around....one of us wouldn't have made it out! LOL

luismartinez
0
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luismartinez 08/24/11 - 07:59 pm
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Two years without a whiff of

Two years without a whiff of gunpowder! How cruel a punishment can one get?

JustLQQking
4
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JustLQQking 08/24/11 - 08:11 pm
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The panther migrated from

The panther migrated from Florida to Georgia ? Wouldnt that make him an "illegal resident" of Georgia ? Therefore, he would be considered a Georgia panther since HE decided to migrate into our neck of the woods. LOL. When it comes to a big cat and me making it out of the woods in one piece, then sorry big feller, but you are going down !! Sentence was too harsh in my opinion since there are drug dealers and child molesters who get by with less !!

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 08/24/11 - 08:41 pm
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The dummy! Only way I would

The dummy! Only way I would harvest such an animal would be if it was attacking me or anyone else! As dangerous as they are, they are still protected in most states. Some states allow hunting them by special permit. Out West, it's a whole different story!

CocknFire23
0
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CocknFire23 08/24/11 - 08:44 pm
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@Sweet Son. I would have shot

@Sweet Son. I would have shot the thing to. Ive seen a panther twice in the wild while hunting. Once in Lincoln County and once in Cherokee County, SC. and if either would have come within shooting range of me, they would have took a dirt nap. Get tired of the DNR trying to say that these animals dont live here when there is hundreds of sighting every year. only one way to prove them wrong and that is to kill it and bring it back to them. $2000 and 2 yerars probabtion for proving them wrong? Sounds good to me. I was told the one in Lincoln county was probably just a bobcat. I know what i seen and it sure wasnt a bobcat. There are probably a ton of these things running around in GA woods but the DNR wants you to think they dont exsist. This guy is my hero.

tigerfan
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tigerfan 08/24/11 - 08:50 pm
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How do we know it was a

How do we know it was a Florida panther? Has anyone seen its long form birth certificate?

TheGeorgian
419
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TheGeorgian 08/24/11 - 09:10 pm
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Thirty years ago I used to

Thirty years ago I used to camp out alone in the Virginia woods. One morning I awoke to find a full grown (non Florida) panther in the process of waking and stretching a few yards from where I'd slept in the open. He or she was magnificent and showed no fear of a human being nearby. I could never injure such a creature unless it was kill or be killed with no conjecture about the circumstances. The panther left and a few hours later I did the same.

Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 08/24/11 - 10:18 pm
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it's a shame so many

it's a shame so many so-called outdoorsmen here would pull the trigger on something, just because it's different or unfamiliar. I pity the space alien who crash lands in the okeefenokee during deer season.

gladesman
0
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gladesman 08/24/11 - 11:48 pm
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The Georgia wildlife agencies

The Georgia wildlife agencies are probably trying to protect the future of hunting by denying the existence of Panthers in the state. They know Florida panthers for the regulatory curse they are to human endeavors. Hunting, access to hunting areas(e.g. ATV's etc.) and hunting in general will be severely restricted if the Florida panther is verified to be in Ga.
Private property rights will be abolished due to panthers in Ga as they have been in Florida although some ranchers buy into the program due to the big money bait being dangled in front of them these days.
I can be a fortune teller on this subject due to having been involved in hunting access right preservation in Florida for a decade and a half.
The whole Florida Panther issue is a State and Federal fraud. All one has to do is read a book titled "Swamp Screamer" authored by Charles Fergus to understand this. On page 119 it clearly states that 2 Panther researchers Melody Roellke (a veternarian) and Stephen O'brien (a genetics specialist) learned thru genetics testing about 20 years ago that genetics and pelt studies verified that the so-called Florida Panther was really a South American species and not a distinct sub-species as is touted by all the financial beneficiaries of this bogus program.
It seems very evident to me that the Cancer research facility that assisted in the conviction of the Georgia man for killing a FLORIDA panther is the same one that Stephen O'brien (financial beneficiary) owned many years ago and may still own that basically verified the Florida panther was already extinct. Everyone knows now that what we have is a bunch of hybridized cats Nothing More.
I was also told face to face by a former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission executive director that one can kill a panther if they are in fear for their life but they better be ready for a forensic investigation of the cat and scene as if it was a murder of a human. He also said that the bullet better hit the cat from the front and not the rear indicating that the animal was shot as he was leaving.
Out West they have a motto regarding wolves SSS Shoot, Shovel and SHUTUP. Georgia folks need to remember this and not be trying to prove they see panthers by bringing dead ones to government officials. Once it is in their lap they have to take action no matter what.
Having hunted Florida for 45 years I have seen the panther and other so called endangered species used by agencies and enviro-extremists to destroy traditional hunting in the swamps of So. Florida and elsewhere in Fl. and would hate to see it happen in any other state.. That is why I am taking the time to try to inform you all in Georgia. I have also worked with many others for 15 years against state and federal agencies that try to do regulatory harm to hunters on behalf of panthers or any other fake endangered species.
Oh, one more thing - Mr Pavey you need to do more research. One does not wait to kill a panther due to the fact they can be on you in one leap from 30 feet away. It is a bit difficult to hit flying panthers when under extreme life threatening stress.
Y'all remember the most important part of SSS - SHUTUP

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 08/25/11 - 06:29 am
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Now that is a comment.

Now that is a comment.

gladesman
0
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gladesman 08/25/11 - 07:45 am
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I truly believe Mr Adams got

I truly believe Mr Adams got the Panther shaft due to the government using O'briens lab to do the genetics testing because the Swamp Screamer book also explains how the State of Florida couldn't convict an Indian for killing a panther because they could not prove the Panther he killed was a Florida panther. In fact after that loss in court Florida changed their law from protecting a Florida panther to protecting the State's Panther population. Here is what the book "Swamp Screamer" says at pages 118 & 119 about Felis concolor coryi:

Beginning at paragraph 2 on page 118:

Roelke went to O’briens laboratory in Maryland and learned his arcane practices. She applied them to blood samples she had been hoarding from Florida panthers. She compared the genetic material to that of 8 other North American puma subspecies and 3 South American subspecies. (These were all the races from which biologists and veterinarians had secured tissue or blood samples.) The indicator on which she focused was a distinctive form of an enzyme called “adenosine phosphoribosyl transferase”, or APRT. Roelke and O’brien concluded that 7 panthers in Everglades National Park had descended, at least in part, from Central or South America. Also the South American genes had crossed the Shark River Slough (one wandering cat could have done it) and infiltrated the main cluster of panthers in Big Cypress ecosystem.

Roelke studied the archives of Everglades National Park and learned that a small private menagerie, Everglades Wonder Gardens of Bonita Springs, Florida, had turned loose at least 7 captive pumas between 1957 and 1965. Apparently park administrators had wanted to boost the panther’s population even back then, and no doubt they were under the impression that the imports were pure Florida panthers. Thirty years later, Everglades Wonder Gardens was still in business. Roelke went and checked on their cats. She zeroed in on an ancient female named Fatima. With the permission of Lester Piper, the menagerie’s owner, Roelke trimmed Fatima’s toenails. Also, she snuck a syringe of her blood: South American APRT.

On to page 119

“ No one wants to admit it.” Roelke said “but apparently a tame female from the East coast was brought into the menagerie in the fifties.” Maybe she came from Central America. Or from French Guiana, where the native puma had such a reddish cast to its coat that it is called tigre rouge. In any event, a cross-bred panther had made it into the wild. Five, six, seven generations later, the chromosomal contributions of at least one foreign cat could still be detected.

Which meant that Florida’s panthers were cross-bred. They were still overwhelmingly Felis Concolor coryi, but they were not purely so. In several scientific papers, Roelke and O’brien referred to the cross-bred cats as “heretical”, which was a polite of calling them hybrids. It seemed that the outside genes had given a boost to the panthers’ overall health. It was as if, say, several Haitian immigrants had been somehow accepted into an isolated Amish community in which, due to inbreeding, half the children were being born as dwarfs. After a few generations there would be darker- skinned Amish plowing the fields, fewer of whom would be three feet tall.

Yet if the panther was helped biologically by this influx of genes, it had been compromised politically. The Endangered Species Act bestows protection on the Florida Panther. It provides funding to aid in its restoration. It disallows the wholesale plundering of its habitat. It scares the hell out of corporations poised to turn thousand acre tracts of panther-friendly pine forest into orderly, profitable rows of orange and grapefruit trees.
The Endangered Species does not apply to hybrids.

End of page 119 of “Swamp Screamer” author Charles Fergus ph 1 814 692 5097
By the way I installed the bold type in this excerpt.

Suggest a motto for Georgia hunters and others that support preserving all existing freedoms "Shhhhh - No Panthers here SSS".

Riverman1
84926
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Riverman1 08/25/11 - 09:48 am
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Like I said, according to the

Like I said, according to the latest scientific evidence the Florida Panther is only a North American Cougar.

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 08/25/11 - 10:18 am
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I’m a hunter who has enjoyed

I’m a hunter who has enjoyed the traditions and sport since I was old enough to have a firearm of my own, over sixty years ago. I was taught to obey the laws of our nation, and that included the laws established by the DNR for each state I lived, and hunted in. One might refer to these laws as “regulatory harm," but they have a purpose! DNR doesn't just throw out regulations on a whim. There is such a thing as conservation of all wildlife species that benefits every legally licensed hunter. Cougars/mountain lions/panthers can be found in many places, and they are not species specific to any state. Like the ever proliferating armadillo and coyote that we rarely saw in Georgia in years past, the big cats are here and are moving into habitats that provide the best food and shelter. It’s a natural process. This poacher’s sentence wasn’t near enough in my opinion, but that’s just me!

Sargebaby
4693
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Sargebaby 08/25/11 - 10:19 am
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Spot on, Riverman!

Spot on, Riverman!

Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 08/25/11 - 11:21 am
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not sure I understand

not sure I understand gladesman's discussion of haitian immigrants and amish dwarfs, but bottom line is that wildlife is to be respected and seasons are to be obeyed. advocating that we kill and quietly bury any panthers that choose to live here sounds like part of the root cause of the pending extinction of the species in florida, which is a shame.

gladesman
0
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gladesman 08/28/11 - 09:11 pm
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The dwarf discussion in the

The dwarf discussion in the second post has to do with the excerpt from the book "Swamp Screamer" where the scientists are talking about a parallel example to the outside genes discovered in the supposed Florida Panther that should have disqualified it from Endangered Species Act applicability.
After their discovery of this fact they (the so called experts) covered it up and have steadfastly denied their own discovery to maintain their jobs and the money flow from this fraudulent listing of panthers as being endangered.
On Mr Pavey's other comment I would say unjust laws can be either be repealed or nullified by citizens by various methods.

Florgia Hunter
0
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Florgia Hunter 09/30/11 - 06:39 pm
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Why don't we level set a

Why don't we level set a little here.

First off, it ceases to be a Florida Panther when it walks into Georgia. Secondly, I am a new hunter and don't get to do it very often because I live in Florida and hunt in GA. I SAW A COUGAR CROSS THE ROAD 100 YARDS IN FRONT OF ME MY FIRST YEAR HUNTING IN HOMERVILLE. Wondering if I could have shot it is the very reason I found this article. Before today I had no idea whether it was legal or not. I wanted to know before I set off this weekend and possibly saw another.

Mr. Parvey, I don't think you hunt. As a matter of fact, I get the feeling you don't spend ANY appreciable time in the woods. I have absolutely no desire to venture into pitch black, close quatered woods at 5am (neccessary for viable morning hunting) or walk out of them at 9pm with something like that walking around. A hunting rifle is NOT a viable self-defense weapon in the dark and in close quarters. Frankly, you seem unconcerned and ignorant of any of those considerations, thus my assumption that you are oblivious to all of this. I would not have mentioned that had you only written the article, but your dismissive and self-righteous comments opened you to it.

Instead of lamenting how critical it is to have this animal in the Georgia woods and how the risk of great bodily harm to a human hunter pales in comparison to having it there, why don't you do something else? Why don't you regale us with 2 or 3 compelling stories of how the cougar NOT being there since 1967 has diminished your quality of life? Tell us about how difficult your life has been; How you just can't go on if that cougar isn't there.

Turn-about IS fair play. I use it all the time to enhance my critical thinking. Funny how critical thinking and turn-about can viciously jerk things back into perspective. The absence of that cougar hasn't affected anything.

Hunters own the woods. We may not hold the title, but we're out there, by the hundreds of thousands. Far more than any agency can competently regulate. For the most part, we're the ONLY ones out there and I don't see anyone falling over themselves to protect us from cougars. It would stand to reason that if the citizens that use the woods (hunters) are of a certain mind, it would be in everyone elses best interests to shut up and fall in line. People who don't use the woods are just chock full of expertise aren't they, guys?

That's what SSS really means. It means if you are going to use this against us, it's going to get taken away. Plain and simple. It also means control your dogs instead of letting them run under a still hunter stand and ruin his hunt. We all have shovels. That's where SSS really comes from.

Vito45
-2
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Vito45 09/30/11 - 07:41 pm
0
0
I deplore anyone killing an

I deplore anyone killing an animal purely for sport (too many hunters have that attitude); but if a predatory animal is prowling my territory endangering me or my property (livestock for example), I'm getting rid of it. In season or not, endangered or not.

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