To honor our incredible wildlife, Defenders has declared 2019 the Year of Coexistence. Over the course of the year, we'll highlight innovative ways people are sharing the landscape with wildlife.
March: Florida Panther
The Florida panther’s population is growing, and so is its range. A female panther was documented north of the Caloosahatchee River, with kittens in tow. Although males had occasionally swum across the river, not a single female had been documented that far north since the early 1970s. Hope has been revitalized for the state animal’s long-term recovery. Although the population has grown slowly over the years, the species is still highly vulnerable.
With Florida experiencing ever-increasing development that often places humans and panthers in proximity, the future of the panther depends upon our ability to coexist. There is simply not enough public land in south Florida to maintain even a single viable population. The species must expand its range and continue moving north into a land of ranches, people, and habitat fragmentation, where further conflict is all but inevitable.
Fortunately, we have several tools at our disposal to avoid and mitigate these conflicts.