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Trail cameras taken from Big Cypress National Preserve

Trail camera photo of Florida panthers. (NPS photo)

Seven trail cameras used to study the elusive Florida panther in the Ochopee area of Big Cypress National Preserve were apparently stolen between Jan. 21 and Feb. 2.

Law enforcement rangers are asking for assistance with the investigation of the cameras, valued at around $2,300. Theft of government property is a federal offense.

The cameras are a tool in determining the presence of a neurological disorder found in Florida panthers and bobcats. The Florida panther is a federally endangered animal whose remaining population is confined to South Florida. Big Cypress National Preserve is the largest area of natural habitat that supports the big cat population.

“The Florida panther is one of the most endangered mammals in the United States and, unless this neurological disorder is identified and controlled, the panther population may not continue to exist in South Florida. Damage or theft of government property is a serious incident and we are asking the public to assist us in identifying the responsible parties,” Big Cypress National Preserve Superintendent Thomas Forsyth said in a statement.

Anyone within information is asked to contact the park immediately. Additionally, you may call or text the investigative services branch tip line at (888) 653-0009 or submit a tip online at, click “Submit a Tip.” You can and may remain anonymous. 

Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at