Save the Florida Panther

Florida panthers – a unique subspecies of the mountain lion – once prowled and flourished in the swamplands of the southeastern U.S. Unfortunately, habitat destruction, collisions with motor vehicles and human intolerance for living with a large predator, have caused their numbers to decline dramatically, with fewer than 200 left in the wild today. In fact, last year we saw a tragic new record made as 24 panthers were killed while crossing Florida roads. During Save the Florida Panther Week, we highlight the plight of these endangered cats and how we can – and must – improve their odds of survival.

Florida Panther, Photo: George Gentry / U.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceLearn Florida Panther, © David ShindleTake Action Florida Panther, © SuperStockSupport Our Work

Coexisting with Panthers
Rural neighborhoods are sprawling into the natural areas where Florida panthers and other predators live and roam. This creates an opportunity for predators like the panther to prey upon unsecured pets and small livestock owned by farmers and cattle ranchers. To increase human tolerance for this endangered species, Defenders of Wildlife is teaching landowners how to safely coexist with panthers.
More on living with Florida panthers >


Reducing Panther Deaths on Roads
Motor vehicle collisions are the number one cause of death for Florida panthers. That’s why Defenders of Wildlife is working with other conservation and land planning organizations to promote the building of wildlife crossings and to advocate for slower speed zones, making the roads safer for humans as well as panthers.
More on preventing Florida panther deaths >


Protecting and Restoring Panther Habitat
As residential and commercial development in Florida continues to grow, it means less space for panthers to roam. When panthers lose their habitat, it reduces their ability to find prey, mates and suitable resting and denning sites. It also creates aggression between panthers, and leads to more collisions with motor vehicles. Defenders of Wildlife is working with Florida conservation and land committees to help protect and restore the habitats that panthers desperately need.
More on Florida panther habitat >
 

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Where We Work
The variety of landscapes and habitats in the southeast – from Florida’s lagoons to North Carolina’s forests – makes for an equally awe-inspiring variety of wildlife.
Success Story
A Win for Wildlife! In April 2012 Florida Governor Rick Scott vetoed HB 1117, legislation that would have allowed state zoos and aquariums to lease state-owned land to conduct breeding and research on animals including giraffes, zebras and rhinos.
Florida Panther,  © SuperStock
Success Story
In April 2012, Florida’s Hendry County put into effect a new slow speed nighttime panther zone on a 5.25 mile stretch of CR 832/Keri Road, a rural road that bisects the Okaloacoochee Slough State Forest.