What’s going on?
Florida panthers are a subspecies of mountain lion found only in South Florida. They are mostly pale brown in color with a white underside and black or dark brown nose, back of ears, and tail tip. Males usually weigh between 102 and 154 pounds and measure around 7 feet long. Females usually weigh 50 to 108 pounds and grow to about 6 feet long.
Historically, Florida panthers were found throughout the Gulf and southern states, with their territory stretching as far north as Tennessee. However, because they were seen as a threat to humans and livestock, a bounty was placed on panthers in 1832, and they were hunted to the brink of extinction. Now, thanks to habitat loss and fragmentation, they are mostly found in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve.
Why it matters.
There are only around 200 Florida panthers left in the wild. The main threats for these big cats are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation due to development. Car collisions, territorial competition, disease, environmental toxins, and low genetic diversity are also threats to panthers.
Florida panthers are important to Florida’s ecosystems and food webs. This is because they are a top predator and help maintain populations of native species and also control some nuisance species like wild hogs.
What you can do.
If you see a panther in the wild, report the sighting to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Visit the FWC website for more information about how you can help Florida panthers.
Information from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission, US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and UF IFAS.