Florida Panther Population Growing But Still Endangered
By Space Coast Daily // January 1, 2014
estimated to be 100 to 160 adults
ABOVE VIDEO: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists released two endangered Florida panthers in 2013, a brother and sister that they rescued as kittens about one and a half years earlier. FWC biologists captured the then 5-month old kittens after their mother was found dead in September 2011. Without that intervention, the kittens likely would have died a short time later. The kittens were taken to the White Oak Conservation Center in northeast Florida, where they were raised until they were ready for release.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The public has reported hundreds of sightings of Florida panthers to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website launched a year ago, where people can record when and where they saw a panther or its tracks.
As of August 2013, the public had submitted 790 sightings to MyFWC.com
Only 12 percent of the reports included a photograph and could be evaluated by Commission biologists. Of those with photos, the majority were confirmed as panthers.
Other animals identified by FWC biologists were bobcats, foxes, coyotes, dogs, house cats and even a monkey. Most often the reported animal or tracks belonged to a bobcat, when it was not a panther.
SEVERAL VERIFIED SIGHTINGS
The verified panther reports were largely confined to southwest Florida, the well-documented breeding range for panthers in the state. There also were several verified sightings in south central Florida.
“The public’s willingness to share what they have seen or collected on game cameras is incredibly helpful and shows us where panthers presumably are roaming in Florida,” said Darrell Land, who heads the FWC’s panther team.
“We thank everyone using the Report Florida Panther Sightings website and encourage others to participate in this citizen-science venture.”
MORE FLORIDA PANTHERS TO BE SEEN
The Florida panther population is estimated to be 100 to 160 adults and yearlings, a figure that does not include panther kittens. As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild.
“As the population of this endangered species grows, the FWC expects more Florida panthers to be seen in areas of the state where they have not lived for decades,” Land said.
As the population of this endangered species grows, the FWC expects more Florida panthers to be seen in areas of the state where they have not lived for decades,
“To properly plan and manage for the expansion of the panther’s range in Florida, information about where the panthers are is vital.”
The FWC has a new “E-Z guide to identify panther tracks” available at FloridaPantherNet.org
Learn more about Florida panthers at FloridaPantherNet.org