Two Men Sentenced For Unlawful Contact With Endangered Florida Panthers
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 2 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 iconic species that are protected under the Endangered Species Act,” said Luis Santiago, Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Region, United States Fish and Wildlife Service. “This case demonstrates our commitment to protect these species so that they can be recovered and be a part of the landscape for future generations.”
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.
This case was investigated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the National Park Service. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Simon Eth.