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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In the Magazine
Roads and development spell trouble for Florida's panthers
In the Magazine
Last year saw a record-high 17 deaths of the endangered big cats on Florida roadways—with one of these still under investigation. In 2008, 10 panthers were killed by vehicles.
In the Magazine
Big Cypress teems with wildlife and is a refuge for the critically endangered Florida panther. But the roads here make it a dangerous place for the big cats, with vehicle collisions one of the leading causes of death.