The Puma concolor coryi is the scientific name for perhaps the most famous subspecies of cougar found in South Florida. In 1981 this large cat was chosen by school kids as the state animal. Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission estimate today’s population to be under 235 specimens.
In Florida this cougar is considered endangered and is protected under the Endangered Species Act. If you drive throughout Florida you may notice the many license plates with Florida Panther on them? Drivers donate to have this special license plate in order to raise funds for research and conservation.
The large cats finds a home in the Everglades, Big Cypress National Preserve and some of the wooded areas of South Florida. Large males can reach over 160 pounds while females rarely grow over 100 pounds.
Habitat & Range
While the are found in wood pine lands, high brush and hardwood hammocks they also live in swampy wooded areas such as the Everglades. Females will have a range of approximately 70 square miles while males can extend it to over 220 square miles.
Hunting & Survival
Panthers tend to hunt more at night and rest during the day. They seem to be most active after dark. They are well equipped to walk, swim and travel up to 20 miles per day. Their running speed can top over 32 mph. Deer and wild hogs are a greater part of their menu but they will hunt raccoons, rabbits, snakes, armadillos, birds and small alligators. The greatest threat to panthers has been loss of habitat and getting hit by cars.
There are 3 main areas of concern that need to be address if panthers populations are to grow. The first and perhaps most important is increasing habitat. Next, more cats are being bred in captivity and released into the wild to boost the population.
Finally but very important is to mix up the gene pool by introducing closely related cats from other regions to increase the bloodline diversity in other to strengthen the populations health and cut back on inbreeding.