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Thursday, August 6, 2009 - 9:03am

Scientists Say Animal Shot and Killed in Georgia Was the Endangered Florida Panther

Updated: 5 years ago.
Scientists estimate there are less than 100 Florida Panthers still living in the wild. (photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

After extensive testing scientists have determined that an animal shot in Troup County last fall was indeed a Florida Panther.

At one time the big cat roamed a territory that stretched into North Georgia. Now, the animal only lives in the Everglades of Florida - or so scientists thought.

In November a hunter in Troup County shot and killed an animal from his deer stand. Genetic tests have confirmed it was the cougar subspecies, the Florida Panther.

Don McGowan is a Senior Wildlife Biologist with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. He says the animal likely walked here.

"If the test is correct, that it's a true Florida Panther, then that is surprising.

"And, who knows there could be another one or two or three in Georgia."

McGowan says the animal is an endangered species and it's illegal to kill them. However, charges have not been filed against the hunter.

Scientists estimate there are less than 100 Florida Panthers still living in the wild.