Anyone that knows American hockey has heard of the Florida panther. However, how much do you know of the actual animal? The Florida panther is labeled as an endangered species and is protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Florida panther is also the only mountain lion species found east of the Mississippi River. They are a fascinating breed of lion and also the State Animal of Florida.

 

Endangered?

 

Yes, the puma concolor coryi, the Florida panther, was marked on the endangered species list in 1967 by the Department of the Interior. In 2017 the population is estimated to be between 120 – 230 remaining in Florida. They usually reside within Southwest Florida in pine lands and mixed swamp forests. Based off the gender of the lion, they will cover different ranges of land for their territory. A male usually ranges over 200 square miles. Whereas, the female lion encompasses about an 80 square mile range. These panthers bolster their boundaries with scents to not invade. Due to these actions, they don’t really have hostile confrontations.

 

Panthers in Their Natural Environment

 

As one would think, these Florida native cats are usually night hunters. Usually they take the time in the night to travel and search for prey to stay camouflaged cool in the night weather. Usually during the daytime, you can find these felines napping to conserve energy for their nighttime escapades. These panthers are able to climb and efficiently swim. Their sense of smell and night vision makes them compelling predators of the dusk. The have a field of vision of 120 degrees. This allows them to see almost the entire area their body is facing.

Pouncing is this predator’s go-to strategy for hunting. However, if something did escape the Florida panther is capable of reaching speeds up to 35 mph. These beasts can live up to 15 years and weigh up to a whopping 160 lbs. This could equate to up to 8 feet in length. Large and capable creatures these are.

 

National Park Service Photo by Rodney Cammauf – U.S. National Park Service, Everglades National Park

 

Panther; Predator or Prey

 

Carnivorous animals are always on the hunt for unsuspecting prey. They venture out into to discrete areas with little vantage points to creep up and attack. These panthers are no different. They prefer to stalk and ambush instead of chase. Rarely will you find them giving chase to prey for long periods of time. Usually, their diet consists of deer or wild hog. But you better believe that these beasts have been known to even feast upon alligators. A fearsome duel between these two depends on how well the panther is able to surprise the reptile.

While these beasts are usually predators, the food chain is very large. Unfortunately, these animals’ biggest threat is humans. Their habitat is diminishing year after year. Territories are being claimed for construction and they are being driven farther and farther from where they are used to surviving. Road kills and hunters are this cat’s biggest fear. Although illegal, there have been dead panthers found and reported with wounds that would trace back to a hunter.

 

We’re Working on it

 

In order to maintain and preserve life for Florida panthers, we must take care of some things. We need to find more areas that will allow for these animals to thrive. As well as, attempt to breed and re-establish a proper population while also releasing these animals into the wild. If successful, these animals will be given a second chance to withstand the pressure they are receiving in nature. They are being pushed out from where they reside and it is our job as the ones doing so, to give these animals a safe place to live.