Florida Panther Numbers Still Low, but Growing

Refer to caption.
A Florida panther mother and her three cubs. Florida Panther Family by David Shindle. Public Domain.

The excellent and engaging science communicator, Dr. David Steen, recently shared an encouraging article on his Facebook page. Written by Andrew Atkins, the story covers the population growth of Florida panthers.

“Florida panther” is a local name given to Puma concolor, the same cat that goes by “mountain lion,” “cougar,” and “puma.” Puma concolor is one of the most wide-ranging large predators in the Western hemisphere, and once occupied the entire continental United States. Unfortunately, decades of state bounties, extermination efforts, and overhunting of the cats’ prey drove pumas out of the eastern two-thirds of the U.S.

Eastern cougars maintain a foothold in Florida, albeit a precarious one. As Atkins’ article explains, in the 1980s there were only 10 – 20 Florida panthers left in the wild. Now, however, Darrel Land of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) believes there are between 120 – 230 Florida panthers.

While this is great news, Florida panthers are still endangered. The cats’ habitat is shrinking, which forces them into closer contact with one another than they prefer: resulting in sometimes fatal fights. In addition, panthers are frequently killed by cars while attempting to cross the road.

Thus, even though conservationists have done a great job of bringing Florida panthers back from the brink of extinction, there is more to do. Authorities and motorists must work together to reduce panther-vehicle collisions, partially by constructing wildlife crossings and remembering to drive slowly. Furthermore, panthers need more habitat in which to roam. This tweet from Dr. Steen summarizes the situation perfectly:

Atkins’ original article on News-Press.com contains far more information – be sure to visit the link below to check it out!

Click Here for the Original Article by Andrew Atkins

19 Thoughts

  1. They look so thin. Our new governor is trying to promote more building/housing but at what costs? We already have a water shortage and animals of all kinds are being displaced. As more developments pop up, more and more animals will be impacted. We already have coyotes coming into our neighborhoods killing pets. I’m sure Florida’s situation is similar. Going back to that article you posted not long ago about farmers and predators. It’s a tenuous balance at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure what the housing situation is like in your state, but I’m generally for more habitat protection. If there is an actual housing shortage though, then that’s something to consider.

      Coyotes are being more or less forced to live in residential neighborhoods in northeast Ohio too, because there aren’t enough woodlands for them. They have taken people’s pets, but only rarely. Unfortunately we must be willing to deal with dynamics like this, if we don’t choose to leave ample space for wildlife.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do not believe there is a housing shortage, though there is a shortage of affordable housing in California. I talked to a young man and he’s paying $3600 a month for a two bedroom in a so-so area. I was shocked. He shares with his father and brother.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. At least they are doing something about it, it is small progress but it’s better than nothing, is there a way they can maybe put up road signs to make people aware that a particular area might be popular with panthers crossing the road so that people drive slower past those points to avoid knocking them down, or is is something they have already done..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Naila, there are already road signs warning people to drive more slowly in panther territory. Unfortunately, most people just ignore signs. What really needs to happen is for wildlife managers to help Florida panthers to establish new home ranges outside of the tiny corner of the state that they’re currently being squeezed into.

      Liked by 1 person

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