Connecting Land for the Florida Panther
Watch a video about how we're helping to protect Florida panthers.Watch
Giving Panthers a Safe Place to Roam
The Nature Conservancy Florida continues to support panther conservation and acquisition of lands containing critical habitat. Earlier this year, the Conservancy, working with state and federal agencies, acquired a conservation easement to protect more than 1,528 acres at Black Boar Ranch. This key piece of land was facing development pressures. Securing this easement was a big win in our efforts to protect lands along the Caloosahatchee River that form a connected corridor of prime panther habitat through Central Florida.
The Florida Panther is one of the most endangered mammals on the planet. About 180 cats remain in the wild. Most live around Okaloacoochee Slough, including the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, near Naples. Panther do roam north of this area (one was seen in Georgia) but they haven’t bred or established home ranges north of the Caloosahatchee River. This is a critical obstacle to the panthers’ survival.
Panther must extend their range beyond the confines of their current territory to prevent extinction. Otherwise, as Doria Gordon, the Conservancy’s director of conservation, says, “The Florida panther will will remain endangered and at critical risk.”
The Conservancy is working to protect Florida panther and you can help. Click here to donate online, or text the word PANTHER to 97779 to make a quick and easy PayPal or credit card donation.
Why is panther habitat expansion so critical?
Their current habitat is simply too small and fragmented for the population to grow to a healthy and sustainable level. Panthers have reached maximum capacity within their home range, and, because they are solitary and territorial, panthers require large areas to hunt, breed and den successfully. Males defend territories of 200 square miles and a single female will establish her home range of 75 square miles within a male’s territory.
Envision an area the size of Hillsborough County sustaining only 5 panthers. Miami–Dade County, one of the largest in the state, would provide home to 10 panthers. This may seem daunting at first but the good news is that large, undeveloped stretches of land still remain within the state’s interior and protecting these lands may mean the difference between extinction and survival for the Florida Panther.
What is being done to help Florida Panther survival?
The Nature Conservancy is leading an effort to protect panther habitat by establishing links to connect existing green spaces. We’ve protected thousands of acres of prime panther habitat already within the Greater Everglades and land protected on the Caloosahatchee River has made the outlook brighter. Protected only hours before foreclosure, this land purchase secures a highly used passage for panther crossing the Caloosahatchee River and looking for new habitat. Without this property, extinction was a near certainty but with this link permanently intact, the Conservancy is determined to build on this foundation, by protecting and restoring key links north of the river up into central Florida.
How can you help Florida Panthers?
Our goal is to ensure permanent protection for 7,300 acres of prime panther habitat, which will link existing green spaces and panther habitat. To do this, we will need to raise $8 million dollars. We plan to leverage that with $21 million dollars of public conservation funding. This will allow us to permanently protect lands that link existing green spaces and create a larger protected home range for panthers to expand and grow. You can help by supporting opportunities for land protection and attending Conservancy events.
What Other Threats Do Florida Panthers Face?
Beyond limited habitat, panther are threatened by disease, continued habitat loss, collisions with vehicles and aggression between panthers that fight over limited territory. Any combination of these factors can result in extinction of Florida Panthers.
Other Fun Facts about Florida Panthers
Did you know?
- A Florida panther would beat your high school track star any day...
Panthers can leap more than 15 feet and can run 35 miles per hour for short distances.
- …but not compete in a heavyweight boxing match.
Males weigh around 120 pounds and are 7 ft long from nose to end of tail. (Panther's tails are 2/3 of their body length.) At birth, the cubs weight just four to eight ounces! That’s less than a one-month-old house cat.
- Who says venison and bacon aren’t a delicacy?
Panthers’ diet includes deer and wild pigs.
- Learn more facts about Florida panthers.