Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Panthers prey on ranchers' calves, but amount varies, Florida study finds

Date:
July 31, 2014
Source:
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Summary:
A study looked at panther behavior at two Florida cattle ranches and has confirmed calf predation as a problem. The Florida panther nearly died out, with an estimated population thinning to just 20 to 25 panthers by 1995, with conservation efforts helping the cat's numbers grow to an estimated 100 to 160 by 2012. But the panthers' comeback has not always been helpful to cattle ranchers.

Adult Florida panther. Panthers preying on calves is a problem for Florida ranchers, University of Florida researchers confirmed, but frequency varies with ranches' layout.
Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A two-year panther study at two southwest Florida cattle ranches shows that the endangered cats attack and kill calves, but how often that happens can vary greatly by location and landscape.

Caitlin Jacobs, a University of Florida master's student in wildlife ecology and conservation, conducted the study, in which radio-transmitter tags were put on the ears of 409 calves at two ranches, both near Immokalee.

The Florida panther nearly died out, with an estimated population thinning to just 20 to 25 panthers by 1995, with conservation efforts helping the cat's numbers grow to an estimated 100 to 160 by 2012.

But the panthers' comeback has not always been helpful to cattle ranchers.

One of the ranches Jacobs studied lost 10 calves, or 5 percent of the herd each year, to preying panthers, while the other lost only one, or half a percent of that herd, during the same time span. Both ranches also lost calves to other causes, including eight deaths at one ranch and five at the other not attributed to predators.

Overall, panther attacks caused the most deaths, although panthers weren't the only predator for calves to contend with. Each ranch also lost at least one ear-tagged calf to a bear attack during the two-year study, while some untagged calves were killed by coyotes and vultures.

The ranches' physical geography, including open spaces and the proximity of wooded areas in which the cats can hide and stalk, likely have much to do with the different rates, she said. But for the panthers to continue their comeback, they rely greatly on the mixed landscape found on ranches, which includes forests, wetlands, prairies and pastures.

Jacobs said she hopes her research helps lead to fruitful policy discussion between state conservation officials and ranchers, perhaps to programs that might pay ranchers to maintain key panther habitat, rather than as compensation for difficult-to-track individual calf losses.

"The ranching landscape is important for panthers. Land that's used for housing or row crops or citrus groves doesn't help them the same way; they need those natural areas," she said.

The research was often gory, with Jacobs, multi-county UF/IFAS livestock Extension agent Lindsey Wiggins and the ranchers themselves evaluating scenes and playing sleuth to determine which predator was to blame: panthers, coyotes, bears or even vultures.

A bite wound to the front or back of the calf's neck was most often the mark of a panther attack, she said, and the cats almost always dragged their prey to a hiding spot nearby to revisit later. Coyote and bear attacks were much more damaging, with the calf's body badly bruised or found to have many external wounds.

Jacobs presented her research two weeks ago at the North America Congress for Conservation Biology in Missoula, Mont. Marty Main, associate dean for extension for UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, supervised her research. They expect the study to be published later this year.

The study was funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Defenders of Wildlife and supported by JB Ranch and Immokalee Ranch, where Jacobs did her research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Panthers prey on ranchers' calves, but amount varies, Florida study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731110942.htm>.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. (2014, July 31). Panthers prey on ranchers' calves, but amount varies, Florida study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731110942.htm
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. "Panthers prey on ranchers' calves, but amount varies, Florida study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140731110942.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Adorable Video of Baby Rhino and Lamb Friend Playing

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) Gertjie the Rhino and Lammie the Lamb are teaching the world about animal conservation and friendship. TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) has the adorable video! Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins