Hunted to near extinction by the mid-1950’s, the Florida panther was listed as endangered by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1967. The population decreased to approximately 20 Florida Panthers in the wild.
The Florida panther is actually a subspecies of the American mountain lion. It lives in hardwood hammocks, cypress swamps and pinelands in southern Florida although there have been unverified reports of panthers in northern Florida.
These large cats are rarely seen because they are solitary animals that live in seclusion. Males have ranges covering 250 square miles. Panthers hunt white-tailed deer, wild hogs, raccoons, rodents and small alligators.
The population of Florida panthers increased to an estimated 160 animals in 2013. This is because of conservation practices including establishing wildlife corridors, protection of habitat and protective fences along busy highways where panthers live.
Hopefully, these and other measures will help to stabilize the population of these magnificent creatures.