I. What is significant about the Florida Panther?
Ø The Florida Panther is the state animal of Florida.
Ø The Florida Panther was chosen as the state animal in 1982 as a result of the actions of students throughout Florida.
II. When was the Florida Panther placed onto the endangered species list?
Ø The Florida Panther was placed on the endangered species list in 1967.
III. What is the estimated remaining population of Florida Panthers living in the wild?
Ø It is estimated that only 80 – 100 Florida Panthers currently live in the wild.
IV. Where do Florida Panthers live?
Ø Florida Panthers are currently found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, and areas that are a mixture of swamp and forest.
Ø Florida Panthers once lived in Florida, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Ø Today Florida Panthers reside ONLY in Florida.
Ø The majority of the Florida Panthers that live in the wild live in secluded portions of Southern Florida such as the Everglades and the Big Cypress Swamp.
V. What threatens the Florida Panthers survival in the wild?
Ø The Florida Panthers largest threat is the destruction of their habitat. An adult male Florida Panthers personal territory extends over 200 square miles, while a female’s territory extends over 70 square miles. Florida Panthers are solitary animals that prefer not to overlap personal territory with other Panthers.
Ø Florida Panthers have a large number of health problems. Most of the health problems are a result of poor, non-diverse, habitat conditions. Florida Panthers that live primarily around the Everglades are becoming increasingly contaminated with mercury as a result of eating raccoons that contain high amounts of mercury. As the land ideal for plant and wildlife existence decreases, so does the wide array of food that Florida Panthers require for a healthy balanced diet.
Ø As the overall number of Florida Panthers that live in the wild decreases, the gene pool necessary for reproduction also decreases. Genetic defects among Florida Panthers are increasing as a result of inbreeding.
Ø Panthers become unafraid of manmade noises and frequently cross highways resulting in fatal collisions with automobiles – the majority of the incidents occur on State Road 29 and the portion of I-75 called Alligator Alley.
VI. What is being done to ensure the Florida Panthers existence in the wild?
Ø Florida Panthers are being bred in captivity with plans to later release them into the wild.
Ø Scientists are attempting to increase the genetic diversity of Florida Panthers by cross-breeding them with closely related subspecies such as the Texas Cougar.
VII. What is the opposition to the Florida Panthers recovery in the wild?
Ø There is not enough land that is uninhabited by humans and the areas that are currently ideal for the Florida Panthers will not remain available, which will continue to prevent the panthers expansion and future survival over a large multi-state area such as its historical area.
Ø There is concern about introducing the Florida Panther into areas where they may cross into residential areas causing a possible threat to human safety, and damage to livestock and pets.
Information obtained from the following sites: