Fund helps research into disorder killing Florida panthers

A deadly neurological condition could set back efforts to restore the Florida panther.
Credit: George Gentry/USFWS

A grant from the Fish & Wildlife Foundation will help scientists’ efforts to understand a puzzling disorder affecting Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) and bobcats (Lynx rufus). The $150,000 grant, funded through “Conserve Wildlife Florida” license plates, will help biologists collect and analyze trail camera images of the cats and perform diagnostic tests on them.

Researchers call the previously unknown disorder feline leukomyelopathy, or FLM, but they don’t know what causes it or how to stop its spread. The disorder damages the insulating sheath that protects nerve cells, often causing the animals to have trouble walking, which can lead to starvation. Biologists worry it could set back efforts to restore the endangered Florida panther.

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