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A strange neurological disorder is making it hard for Florida panthers to walk

The state is asking for your help submitting videos to figure out what's going on.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
A panther walking through palmetto trees in Charlotte County, Florida.

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. — The state is asking people for help figuring out what's wrong with some Florida panthers and bobcats that have been walking unusually and struggling to use their back legs.

This month, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced it had found neurological damage in one panther and one bobcat. 

Trail camera video has shown eight more panthers, mostly kittens, and one adult bobcat with varying degrees of the condition. FWC says videos of affected cats have been collected from Sarasota, Lee and Collier Counties. At least one panther photographed in Charlotte County, may also be affected.

Investigators are testing for various potential toxins, including neurotoxic rodenticide (rat pesticide). They're also looking into infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies.

“Numerous diseases and possible causes have been ruled out; a definitive cause has not yet been determined," Gil McRae, director of FWC’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute said. "We’re working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and a wide array of experts from around the world to determine what is causing this condition.”

Florida panthers are an endangered species native to the Sunshine State.

The state says the public can help by submitting videos showing animals that look like they're having problems with their rear legs. People can upload video files smaller than 10MB to the panther sighting webpage, which can be found by clicking here. If you have larger files, email FWC at Panther.Sightings@MyFWC.com.

To report dead or injured panthers, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922 or type #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.

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