The Florida panther, Florida's official state animal, is one of the most endangered animals on earth, with 100 to 160 adults remaining in southern Florida.
Florida does its best to accommodate new residents with homes, schools and roads. But as we grow, suitable habitat for panthers and other wildlife shrinks. Florida panthers normally live in remote, undeveloped areas, but as the number of people living and recreating in southern Florida grows so does the chance of an encounter.
Here's how you can help
On the road: A single panther needs 50 to 100 or more square miles of territory to search for food and mates and these travels often entail crossing roads. More than 100 panthers have been killed on Florida roads in the last 30 years. The Florida Department of Transportation has installed wildlife crossings, which allow panthers and other wildlife to safely cross busy highways, but more crossings are needed. When in panther habitat, be alert, decrease your speed and increase the distance between you and other cars. Scan the roadsides for reflective animal eyes.
At home: Exercise particular caution from dusk to dawn when Florida panthers are most active. By attracting deer, raccoons and wild hogs - preferred panther prey - with unsecured garbage, pet food and vegetable gardens, you may also be attracting their predator. Trim or remove vegetation to eliminate forage for prey and hiding places for panthers. Keep livestock in enclosed sheds or barns at night and keep pets safely inside. Supervise children and install outside lighting.
Camping and hiking: Most panthers want to avoid humans. Hike only in daylight and with a friend. Make noise so as not to surprise a napping cat. Keep children and dogs close to you. Never approach a panther or what may be a panther kill. Panthers cover their kill and return to feed on it for several days.
Learn more today
Download A Guide to Living with Florida Panthers (39MB) and Florida Panther Safety Tips (468KB).
Visit PantherNet for a comprehensive introduction to the Florida panther.
Buy a license tag or donate - Your purchase of a Florida Panther specialty license plate funds the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund and these monies support all of FWC's panther conservation efforts. To buy a panther license plate visit your local tax collector's office or go to http://buyaplate.com.
The Florida Panther Fund, established by The Wildlife Foundation of Florida, funds the care of injured or orphaned Florida panthers as well as other panther conservation needs.
Being alert while in panther country, will keep your family safe and enable Florida's endangered cat to survive.