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Two sentenced for harassing baby panthers 

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Two men have been sentenced for snagging panther babies from their den and sharing the experience on social media. Below is a recap from the Department of Justice.

Florida panther. Photo courtesy US Fish and Wildlife

Fort Myers, FL – On December 27, 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Carol Mirando sentenced Javier Torres (42, Miami) to 14 days’ imprisonment for harassing two endangered Florida panther kittens. 

The court also ordered Torres to pay a $1,000 fine, and sentenced him to complete 200 hours of community service and to serve three years’ probation. On December 18, 2018, Judge Mirando sentenced Alfredo Lopez de Queralta (46, Miami) to complete 100 hours of community service and serve two years’ probation in connection with the same incident. Both men previously pleaded guilty on September 12, 2018. 

According to court documents, in February 2017, Torres crawled into a Florida panther den in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Collier County and unlawfully removed two panther kittens. Lopez de Queralta filmed Torres as he displayed the kittens for the camera. Later, Lopez de Queralta uploaded and shared segments of the video on YouTube.

Florida panthers are considered to be among the most critically endangered large mammal species in the world, and experts estimate fewer than 200 Florida panthers are alive today.

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Among the cypress trees

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The shores of Lake Marion, S.C., near the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. (c) 1999 J.S. Reinitz

The shores of Lake Marion, S.C., near the Santee National Wildlife Refuge. (c) 1999 J.S. Reinitz

One of my favorite things about exploring South Carolina was the cypress trees that stood silent and ominous, rising up from the ponds, tufts of Spanish moss caught in their branches. We’d rent canoes at Goodale State Park and paddle to the far end of the lake where there was a trail through the trees. We’d pick our way through, trying not to get lost, ever alert for snakes and alligators.

Above is a photo of the shores of Lake Marion, S.C., near the Santee National Wildlife Refuge.