The Florida Panther

The Florida panther, Florida’s official state animal, has been listed as a federally endangered species since 1967. As the state grows, suitable habitat for panthers and other wildlife shrinks.

As the state grows, suitable habitat for panthers and other wildlife shrinks. Florida panthers normally live in remote, undeveloped areas.

Panthers are solitary, elusive animals and are rarely observed in the wild. Cougar adults are a uniform tan color with lighter fur on their lower chests, belly, and inner legs. Shades of individual animals may vary considerably from grayish to reddish to yellowish.  This uniform color conceals them effectively in a variety of settings including the open range.The home range of male panthers is about 200 square miles or 128,494 acres and the home range of female panthers is about 75 square miles or 48,185 acres. Young males are often without a home range of their own. Young females usually remain close to where they were born (less than 8 miles) and frequently continue to share a portion of their mother’s home range. Males disperse greater distances. Dispersal of young panthers, particularly males, has been greatly reduced in south Florida by human development.

The Panther Study

In 1994 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved plans to restore gene flow between the Florida Panther and Texas cougar populations. The panther and the cougar are both subspecies of the mountain lion. Panthers bred naturally with Texas Cougars where their ranges overlapped. This natural exchange of genetic material kept both subspecies of Puma healthy. Unfortunately, the panther population is now isolated in the southern tip of Florida. The program began in 1995 with the introduction of eight female Texas cougars into the panther population.  The cougars have accomplished their goal of producing offspring with Florida Panthers and the program was completed in 2001. Genetic Restoration has restored historic gene flow, saving the Florida Panther from certain demise due to inbreeding. The estimated FL panther population in 1995 was 30 to 50, it is now estimated at 100-150. A great success story.

Panther Release

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