The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that David Adams, 60, formerly of Newnan, Georgia, was sentenced today in United States District Court, Northern District of Georgia, after pleading guilty to the unlawful take of a Florida panther, a species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
“Today’s sentencing affirms our commitment to investigate violations of the federal wildlife laws intended to protect our Nation’s most imperiled species,” said Luis J. Santiago, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Southeast Region, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.
Adams was sentenced to two years probation, with a special condition of probation that he may not hunt or obtain a hunting license anywhere in the United States during the period of probation. In addition, he was sentenced to pay a fine of $2,000.
According to court documents and other information presented in court, on November 16, 2008, Adams shot and killed a cougar known as a Florida panther while deer hunting in Troup County, Ga. At the time of the shooting, Adams knew he was shooting at a species of cougar, for which there was no open hunting season in the State of Georgia. The bullet fired from Adams’ gun entered the Florida panther in the rear portion of the rib cage by the right hindquarters just below the spine and lodged in the inside of the panther’s right front shoulder.
The Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species since March 11, 1967. The Puma concolor coryi (the scientific name for the Florida panther) is a sub-species of the Puma concolor, which is known by many names such as, cougar, puma, catamount, and mountain lion.
The Endangered Species Act prohibits the “take” of an endangered species. As defined within the Endangered Species Act, “take” means to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct. The maximum penalties for criminal violations of the Endangered Species Act can result in imprisonment of up to one year, and/or up to $100,000 in fines.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission have worked for years to bring the Florida panther back from the edge of extinction. The population has been growing since its low point of less than 30 panthers in the wild in the late 1980s, to more than 100 to 160 adults today. Genetic testing showed this panther was an offspring of panther FP137 (South Florida).
This case was investigated by Special Agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Law Enforcement Rangers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information about our work and the people who make it happen, visit http://www.fws.gov and http://www.fws.gov/southeast .