Sarasota News Leader

09/28/12

Issue link: http://newsleader.uberflip.com/i/84916

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 77 of 87

Sarasota News Leader September 28, 2012 I visited HSP, where I had the time of my life and failed to solve the black panthers' mys- tery. But Offal, the foremost owl cryptozoolo- gist in all of Sarasota County, and I solved the greatest mystery of all! To loosely paraphrase Sherlock Holmes: When you have eliminated the impossible, i.e., the existence of a black panther, whatever remains, however improb- able, must be a true black morph Jaguarundi. Yes! Meet the Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroun- di) http://www.mnh.si.edu/mna/image_info. cfm?species_id=112, a relative of the Florida panther (Puma concolor) and a species that exists as a solid black morph with a very long black tail. It is the only solidly black wild cat in North America whose occasional sightings on Siesta Key can be explained. There is nothing on our key to attract or support a Florida panther: It would be quite out of its element here. However, the jaguarundi, particularly the black morph, has evolved into a creature that could feel as at home here as do our elusive but thriving population of bobcats. For the scholarly inclined, I highly recom- mend Lisa Wojcik's excellently researched study on the jaguarundi in Florida. And for all, particularly those of you who have actually seen a jaguarundi, this amazing video helps us understand how adaptable this cat is and how it could have visited Siesta Key. Page 78 View this video online at http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=ntm5-sJ0Pfk Some advice on reporting a jaguarundi sight- ing to authorities: • Be sure to spell "jaguarundi" correctly so the phone attendant will not automatical- ly type in "yet-another-loony-tunes-Flori- da-black-panther call-in." • Be assertive, but not shrill, when you hear pity and disdain on the other end of the phone. Why? Well, because there is just one teeny-tiny detail that I neglected to mention: According to the Florida Fish and Wild- life Conservation Commission (FWC), the jaguarundi does not exist in Florida, only in Texas and Central and South America. There is no documentation whatsoever of its presence in the Sunshine State. That's on the third paw (remembering I had two left over from last week). On the fourth paw, "Jaguarundi are listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and cannot be taken from the wild in Florida." In other words, do not take the jag- uarundi home with you! You could be found in violation of the U.S. Protected Species Act of 1973, as amended, and thereby possibly sub- ject to a fine as high as $250,000, as well as prison time, for harassing or harming a crea-

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Sarasota News Leader - 09/28/12