$12,000 reward offered in suspicious panther death

OCHOPEE, Fla. - State and federal wildlife authorities are offering a $12,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the suspicious death of an endangered Florida panther.

The panther was found dead Dec. 7 in the Big Cypress National Preserve with a suspected gunshot wound. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating. Anonymous tips can be reported to the state wildlife commission at 888-404-3922.

Florida panthers are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Unlawfully killing one is a third-degree felony with a maximum penalty of a year in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Bob DeGross of the National Park Service says the panther was an 18-month-old female implanted with a microchip.

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