The Ft. Myers News Press published an article titled “On the Prowl for Panthers” on April 24th 2014 which was written by Chad Gillis in the Go Coastal section of the newspaper. Panthers are a rarity to see in Florida because there are so few of them and they are predators who camouflage and hide themselves very well in their environment. According to the article there are only about 150 breeding adults left in Florida which is actually a rebound from the very few who were left in the 1990’s. Florida officials think that large preserves like the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve with 85,000 acres which is a wetland wilderness will help to preserve the Panthers need for a large roaming area to hunt for its food and establish its territory. Other protected preserves will help the Panther as well such as the Big Cypress National Preserve which has 730,000 acres of swamps, prairies and marsh land. Big Cypress sits next to the Everglades National Park which contains almost 1.5 million acres. There is also the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge http://www.fws.gov/floridapanther/panther_faq.html with 21,000 acres and serves as a crossroads between Big Cypress National Preserve and The Everglades.
The best time to see Panthers is at dawn and sunset since Panthers are nocturnal. Panthers will go to great extents to protect its habitat from intruders even by killing other Panthers. Occasionally Panthers wander into areas they don’t belong such as trying to cross the I-75 highway, A Panther also showed up at the Clam Pass Beach in Naples. The Fish and Wildlife Service attaches electronic collars to some Panthers to study their movements and to protect them. They will rescue, rehabilitate and release them after an accident. See a video of the Florida Panther
Visit one of the Panther Preserves and Wetland areas below;
Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve http://www.stateparks.com/fakahatchee_strand_preserve.html
Big Cypress National Refuge http://www.nps.gov/bicy/index.htm
Okloahatchee Slough State Forest http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Divisions-Offices/Florida-Forest-Service/Our-Forests/State-Forests/Okaloacoochee-Slough-State-Forest
Collier County Parks http://www.colliergov.net/index.aspx?page=439
photo of Panther courtesy of www.fws.org