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Panther Rescue

September 19, 2005

Scientists are trying to save Florida panthers by breeding them with Texas cougars. But is it working?


Cross-breeding panthers to save them. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

For many years, the Florida panther has teetered on the brink of extinction because of habitat loss and inbreeding. Ten years ago, in a last-ditch effort to bring more diversity to the cats’ gene pool, wildlife managers introduced eight female cougars from Texas into Florida. Now, ecologist Stuart Pimm at Duke University and his colleagues report that this strategy worked. Kittens born with some Texas cougar genes were mor likely to survive than pure Florida kittens.

STUART PIMM (Duke University):
What this case study does is add to a very small number of examples that show that genetic rescue can be an effective conservation tool.

Pimm says this effort has bought conservationists a few decades, but what Florida panthers ultimately need is more land.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.