Did I See a Panther?

Florida panther and kittens courtesy Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission

Florida panthers can sometimes be confused with bobcats, dogs, and coyotes. This 4-page fact sheet written by Diane J. Episcopio, Elizabeth F. Pienaar, and Martin B. Main and published by the UF/IFAS Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation describes how to identify panthers by their physical characteristics and their tracks and explains what to do if you have seen a panther.

Protecting Florida Panthers by Protecting Domestic Animals: Building a "Panther-Proof" Pen

pantherproof livestock pen
Florida panthers once ranged throughout most of the southeastern United States, but loss of habitat and efforts to eradicate panthers during the 1800s led to a large decline throughout much of their historic range. Florida panthers were listed as an endangered species in 1967 and have been federally protected by the US Endangered Species Act since 1973. For the most part, the role of panthers in the natural environment benefits people (they prey on burgeoning populations of white-tailed deer, raccoons, opossums, and feral hogs). Panthers do sometimes kill pets and livestock in rural and residential areas in southwest Florida, however, and some people believe that panther kills happen because panther populations have grown too large or are not well-managed. In fact, the panther population is dangerously small, and most of these losses can be attributed to poor management not of panthers but of pets and livestock. To maintain support for panther conservation, it is paramount that rural residents protect and secure their pets and livestock. This 3-page fact sheet written by Phillip D. Rodgers, Elizabeth F. Pienaar, Mark Lotz, and Darrell Land and published by the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation explains how to make a locking, secure enclosure to protect livestock from panther predation–and protect the fragile panther, as well.

Government Efforts to Protect Habitat for the Florida Panther on Private Lands

Figure 1. A Florida panther

Endangered Florida panthers live and breed on state and federal lands in south Florida, but they are a wide-ranging species, and the habitat available to them on public lands is not enough for them to thrive and recover. The 2008 Panther Recovery Plan by the US Fish and Wildlife Service requires that habitat for the panther be conserved on both public and private lands throughout the state. Private rangelands in southwest and south central Florida provide important habitat and prey for the Florida panther. These lands also play a key role in conserving other native species like gopher tortoises, bob white quail, turkeys, deer, vultures, scrub jays, cranes, black bears, and bobcats. Unfortunately, these rangelands are under increasing development pressure as the human population in Florida continues to grow. Multiple policy approaches have been put in place by local, state, and federal governments to address habitat loss and secure natural resources in Florida for our panthers. This 5-page fact sheet written by Elizabeth F. Pienaar and Melissa M. Kreye and published by the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation provides a brief overview of existing regulatory and voluntary approaches to help conserve the Florida panther on private lands.

Managing Conflicts with Wildlife: Living with Panthers

Figure 1. A Florida pantherPanthers help maintain populations of some native species and control nuisance species such as wild hogs. They are generally secretive and rarely bother people, but there are rare situations where panthers can become dangerous or damaging. In this 4-page fact sheet, we present some facts about panthers, describe dangers and problems they may cause, and provide suggestions on how to cope with these issues. Written by William M. Giuliano, Holly K. Ober, Lauren Watine, Raoul Boughton, Eric Hellgren, Darrell Land, and Mark Lotz, and published by the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, December 2014.

The Florida Panther: Past, Present, and Future

Figure 3. A kitten is administered dewormer during a den visit. Credit: Madelon van de Kerk Florida panther was presumed extinct by the early 1950s, but were rediscovered in 1973 by a survey team organized by the National Geographic Society. They were one of the first species to be added to the US endangered species list and are now the only population of North American puma that occurs east of Mississippi River. This 3-page fact sheet describes Florida panther research and management actions, the effects they have had on the population, and continuing challenges. Written by Madelon van de Kerk, David P. Onorato, and Madan K. Oli, and published by the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, February 2015.

Habitat Requirements of the Florida Panther

UW390The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) was listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act in 1967. Habitat loss and fragmentation are primary threats, driven by urban development and the conversion of rangelands to row crops, citrus production, and mining. This 3-page fact sheet focuses on which habitats are most important for conservation of the Florida panther. Written by Elizabeth F. Pienaar and Elena C. Rubino, and published by the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, October 2014. (Photo courtesy of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.)