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Florida Panther

A Florida panther.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Some of Florida's big cats are walking strangely and state wildlife officials need your help to figure out why. 

Florida Panther
Photo courtesy IFAS

An experiment to increase the genetic diversity of the Florida panther has apparently worked. That's the conclusion of a 10-year study released this week.

Carlton Ward Jr.

Growth is no stranger to Florida. The state is a magnet for snowbirds, immigrants and sun-seekers. But will too much growth crowd out what people come here for to begin with?


Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

A Florida conservation group is questioning a plan to develop thousands of acres in southwest Florida that is currently home to the Florida panther.

There’s a darker side to a rebounding Florida Panther population with state game officials reporting a spike in attacks on livestock and domestic animals in rural Southwest Florida.

Animal rights and environmental groups are urging members to flood the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service with pleas not to alter the Florida Panther’s “endangered” status.

Last year was one of the deadliest for the Florida panther. Wildlife experts say there will likely not be as many fatalities this year, but Florida drivers should still take several precautions. 

Accurate numbers are hard to come by, but state and federal wildlife officials are raising their official estimate of the number of endangered Florida Panthers.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

More Florida panthers could die this year than last year’s record number.

Wildlife authorities attribute the mortalities to the endangered animal’s growing population.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials have documented 22 dead panthers so far this year. All but four of the animals died in vehicle collisions. Last year, 41 panthers died.

Darrell Land of FWC says the state’s panther population is estimated at up to 180 animals, compared with a few dozen 30 years ago.

AP Photo

Florida set a new record for the number of panthers killed on roads after a 1-year-old female panther was hit by a car on Tuesday.

Wikipedia Commons

If there's one critter considered to be one of the emblems of Florida - besides the manatee, of course - and never mind the mouse - it's the Florida panther.

The felines once prowled the entire Southeast, but relentless hunting thinned the herd to a mere 30 animals by the 1960's. Protections were put in place, and their recovery has been successful enough that there have been a growing number of complaints among ranchers about panther attacks on cattle and other domesticated animals.

Florida wildlife authorities want federal involvement in managing the state's growing panther population.

Florida Fish and Wildlife describes the Florida panther as a conservation success story as its population has rebounded to about 180 from fewer than 30 when it first was listed in 1967.

In Florida, the official state animal triggers mixed feelings. The Florida panther has been on the endangered species list for nearly 50 years. From a low point in the 1970s when there were only about 20 panthers in the wild, the species has rebounded.

Now, nearly 200 range throughout southwest Florida. And some officials, ranchers and hunters in the state say that may be about enough.

Florida panthers are a subspecies of the cougar or mountain lion. They're slightly smaller than their cousins, but like them, the panthers need lots of room to roam.

Governor Rick Scott spoke to reporters with a caged Florida panther present Tuesday at Gator Park in Miami. He announced that $150 million will go toward Everglades restoration this year and $5 billion throughout the next 20 years. Part of the plan he announced funds projects to protect panthers-- 2014 was a bad year for panther deaths. The other part is to move, clean and store Florida’s water supply.

How To Deal With Florida's Growing Panther Population

Jan 12, 2015

The endangered Florida Panther is experiencing a slight population rebound.

While this is good news for recovery efforts, it’s becoming a problem for ranchers in Southwest Florida. That’s because panthers are killing off livestock such as cattle in large numbers, and ranchers are taking a financial hit.

Citizen Spotters Help Save Florida Panther

Sep 3, 2013

A year after launching its online site, biologists with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission have received 790 reports of panther sightings from most parts of the state, complete with GPS coordinates. The problem: Only 12 percent of the reports included photographs of the animal, or its tracks, that could be used to verify whether the reporter truly saw a Florida panther. The majority of the reports submitted with photos were verified as Florida panthers, the FWC said.

Rare Video of Florida Panther Claw-Marking Logs

Nov 16, 2012

Not too many people have seen a wild Florida panther claw-marking a log. Well, here’s their chance. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s South Florida Office has posted rare video to its web site of a Florida panther “claw-marking“ logs.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Several government agencies have banded together with groups as diverse as the Nature Conservancy and Wal-Mart to help protect the Florida Panther.

A deal has been closed to protect 1,278 acres on prime panther habitat along the south shore of the Caloosahatchee River. That's considered the dividing line between the Everglades and Big Cypress - where almost all the panthers live - and the rest of Florida.

Several government agencies have banded together with groups as diverse as the Nature Conservancy and Walmart to help protect one of the state's endangered species.  The future of the Florida Panther may be helped by this land deal.

 

CALOOSAHATCHEE RIVER - The Florida Panther is fighting its way back from the brink of extinction, and members of the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition are seeing signs of the panther in their travels.

But the panther faces many dangers, as photojournalist and expedition member Carlton Ward Jr. tells WUSF.