Stories in Florida

Help Save the Florida Panther

We're protecting critical habitat for this extremely endangered animal—and you can help.

Florida panther with golden eyes stares straight ahead.
Captive Florida Panther Captive Florida Panther © Mark Conlin courtesy of Tallahassee Natural History Museum
Ghost Cat: The Florida Panther and Conservation (1:20:45) National Geographic photographer Carlton Ward Jr. shares his photographic journey through Florida's panther territory, and our Executive Director Temperince Morgan shares how we're working to protect Florida panther habitat.

Panthers Need Connected Habitat to Survive

When the Florida panther was included in the Endangered Species Act in 1973, there were fewer than three dozen cats remaining in the wild.

Today there is great reason to be hopeful: Panthers now number close to 200, finally roaming safely on expanded territory protected by TNC.

Collaboration with private landowners and the purchase of property development rights through conservation easements is a cornerstone of TNC's strategy to protect lands that provide what panthers need.  Essential land within the panther corridor is now protected along both banks of the Caloosahatchee River, thanks to member donations.

For the panther, expanded and protected habitat is only a short swim away.

Florida panther roams in the wild.
An endangered Florida Panther Endangered Florida Panther taken in December of 2016 at Spirit of the Wild Wildlife Management Area in Florida using a Nikon D3200 with a passive infrared trigger and two flashes. Nature, and the panthers, matter to me because if we are able to save the panther we will be able to save Florida. © William Freund/TNC Photo Contest 2018

Giving Panthers a Safe Place to Roam

In 2017, TNC announced the protection of Cypress Creek Grove, the first protected tract on the northern bank of the Caloosahatchee River in the heart of the panther corridor. This important location has been safeguarded from future development.

Owned by Falcon Eyrie Farms, LC, the 460-acre property is the first working citrus operation in the state to commit to panther protection with TNC, and the conservation easement is the first located in the panther corridor funded exclusively by member donations.

Cypress Creek Grove is located across the Caloosahatchee River from the 1,257-acre Lone Ranger Forge/American Prime property to the south, also protected by a conservation easement with TNC and additional easements with state and federal agency partners.

Aerial view of Cypress Creek Grove in LaBelle, Florida against a cloudy blue sky.
Cypress Creek Grove Aerial of the land easement at Cypress Creek Grove in LaBelle, FL. This citrus grove is on the north bank of the Caloosahatchee River, directly north of Goodno Ranch on the south bank and Black Boar Ranch south of that. These 3 properties preserve a vital corridor for the panther to cross the river. © Carlton Ward Jr.

These easements were put in place just in the nick of time—the day before the property was set for a foreclosure sale. Lone Ranger Forge connects along its southern border with the 1,527-acre Black Boar Ranch, protected in 2015 by conservation easement with TNC, with assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These three easements now ensure 3,244 acres of Florida Panther habitat remain intact and permanently protected.

Panther Facts 

Did You Know?

  • The panther (Puma concolor coryi) is one of two wild cat species found in Florida. The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is the other.
  • Panthers can leap more than 15 feet and can run 35 miles-per-hour for short distances.
  • Males weigh 100–160 pounds and can be 7 feet long from nose to end of tail. Their tails can be nearly two-thirds of their body length.
  • At birth, the cubs weigh just 4–8 ounces. That’s less than a one-month-old house cat.
  • Wild hog, white-tailed deer and raccoons comprise 70 percent of a panther’s diet.
  • Only 12–20 panthers existed in the early 1970s in Florida. Our efforts are making a difference!

TNC continues to support panther conservation and acquisition of lands containing critical habitat. TNC's easements are within the area identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) as important to panther land connectivity and expansion, and adjacent to lands identified for future conservation by the Florida Forever program, which purchases and conserves natural lands.

The northern boundary of Cypress Creek Grove connects directly to an area currently highly ranked on the Florida Forever Priority List. We’re working to encourage legislators to support Florida Forever funding. Without it, the lands on the Priority List may not receive funding quickly, and the panther needs our help now.