Florida Panther Rescue Attempt:
As a child I greatly enjoyed The Wahoo Bobcat by Joseph Lippincott.  I suppose it was in part inspired by the success of Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.  A third called, I believe, The Creek described the culture in the same time and same part of Florida, my own stomping grounds and each in its own way seemed just about right.  Cuss my soul but I have met the author and quite like him.  Once I remember his name I shall come back here and insert it. 

More than the others, The Wahoo Bobcat depicts the environmental destruction that has done nothing but accelerate ever since, save for a brief respite provided by the otherwise disastrous current economic downturn.  There is a cameo appearance of a Florida panther in a book otherwise following the adventures of a bobcat.  There was a subtle moral to that.  No matter how tough you are, there is somebody tougher.

So I was thrilled one day to find tracks of what looked to me like those of a panther.  They were far too large to be those of a wildcat.  My sage older brother pointed out that they were still not large enough and besides there were imprints from toenails.  It was a big dog. 

This rare and impressive beast, the cat I mean not the dog, had something like a 70 mile range, which means they can never have been very common, never as many as one in five square miles and probably much less.  Like maybe one in fifty or a hundred square miles.  At all events their genetic diversity has gone into decline as the pristine Florida wilderness has been carved up by developers.  They are endangered.

It was decided to bring in Texas pumas to enrich the gene pool.  (A Bit of Texas in Florida, Craig Packer SCIENCE vol. 329 no. 5999 September 24, 2010 page 1606 and Genetic Resoration of the Florida Panther Warren E. Johnson et al. page 1641 of the same issue)  It appears that this time it worked although problems remain.

Being sort of an enthusiast on  the issue, “Don’t let the gene pool get too big,” I find this to be a useful corrective.  You can have a gene pool that’s too small, too.

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