There’s murder in the ‘Glades but rarely is the victim one of Florida’s most endangered species. In late July 2012 a Naples, Fla man was sentence to 30 days in jail and fined $10,000 for shooting and killing a Florida panther in 2009. According to federal prosecutors the man was bow hunting in rural Golden Gates Estates in Collier County when he knowingly shot and killed the animal. The following day the man and an accomplice moved the animal in an attempt to conceal it.
The man, identified as Todd Benfield, 45, must also complete 60 days of home detention, 3 years of probation, complete a hunter’s education class and 200 hours of community service. His jail time will be served on weekends.
It could have been a lot worse. The maximum penalty Benfield could have faced is 1 year in a federal prison and a fine of up to $100,000. His $10,000 fine will go toward a national fund law enforcement uses to catch more offenders.
The Florida panther, the state’s animal, is one of the most endangered mammals on earth. The breeding population consists of an estimated 100-160 adults confined to protected areas in the Big Cypress National Preserve and the Panther National Wildlife Refuge. The panther is one of 30 Puma concolor subspecies known by many names – puma, cougar, mountain lion, painter, catamount and panther.