This Saturday has been designated as "Save the Florida Panther Day" in the state of Florida, the last stronghold of these big cats.
In making the designation, Florida Gov. Rick Scott noted that it is "proper and fitting for all Floridians to pause and reflect on the plight of the Florida panther and the task of preserving this rare component of Florida’s diverse natural resources as a legacy to generations of Floridians yet to come.”
The proclamation also said preservation of the Florida panther, which also is the state’s official animal, “… is the will of the people and therefore a mission of their government ...”
The Florida panther once ranged across the southeastern United States, but is now found primarily in south Florida, largely in Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), 100-160 adult panthers remain in the wild, south of the Caloosahatchee River and Lake Okeechobee.
FWC and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have documented that the population has risen in the past two decades, largely as a result of focused conservation efforts by private landowners and state and federal land managers.
FWC’s panther research, management, and protection efforts are funded through the sale of Florida panther specialty license plates. Money collected from those sales is deposited in the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund to help fund the species’ recovery from the threat of extinction.
To view the governor’s proclamation or to learn more about Florida panthers, visit the PantherNet website. PantherNet also includes a link to a panther-reporting website, where the public is encouraged to share their panther sightings and upload pictures of panthers or their tracks.