Black Panthers Authenticity

Black Panthers Authenticity

How Many Panthers Are Left?

In 2010, the population had grown from about 25 adults in 1995 to roughly 100. In 2015 the state estimated their population to be 100 -180. In 2017, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission updated the population estimate to between 120 - 230 panthers still remaining in Florida, making this one of the rarest and endangered mammals in the world. Even at their best estimates, 230 panthers are not a sustainable population size. The Florida panther is currently listed as endangered and is protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Where is their Habitat & Range?

The Florida panther is mostly confined to Southwest Florida, usually in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, and mixed swamp forests. Adult males may range over an area of 200 square miles, while females range over a 70 to 80 square mile area. Florida panthers are very solitary animals. An adult maintains a home range to live, hunt and, if female, raise its young alone. A male panther's home range is very large and averages 275 square miles and overlaps with the smaller home ranges of females. Panthers maintain boundaries by marking with scents. They rarely fight over territory.

The Florida Panther is an umbrella species, which means they are the heart of the ecological community within their habitat. Protecting panthers in Florida indirectly conserves other threatened and endangered wildlife in the state.

General: Panthers are most active at dusk and dawn, they can travel 15-20 miles a day, often moving in a zig-zag pattern, though they tend to rest during the daytime, travel & hunt during the cooler hours of the night. Panthers can swim and will cross wide bodies of water. They have a keen sense of smell and a field of vision of 130 degrees, they have excellent depth perception but lack the panoramic view that deer have.

They can run up to 35 mph but only for a few hundred yards, their preferred method of hunting is to creep up as close to their prey as possible and launch a short spring attack. Panthers do become used to man-made noises and frequently crossroads. They are attracted to woodland fires and may stay near burned sites for days as deer and other prey are drawn to new vegetation. When humans approach an area they will either be still, disappear, or attempt to circle behind. Panthers can live up to between 12-15 years in the wild. A male can measure 7-8 feet from the nose to tail tip and weigh 100-160 lbs. Females are about 6 feet in length and weigh between 60-100 lbs.


What Kind of Hunter is the Panther?

Efficient is the word. Adult male panthers weigh up to 150 pounds and can measure almost 7 feet long from the nose to the tip of the tail. Females are smaller, rarely weighing more than 100 pounds. Panthers are built to hunt live prey. Deer and wild hogs are their preferred food, but, when these are not available panthers will eat raccoons, armadillos, snakes and even alligators. Interestingly, panthers eating a diet of small animals are not as healthy as those with plenty of deer to hunt. While they are good sprinters, panthers rarely chase prey for long distances. Instead, prey is singled .

 

What are the Threats?

Road kills, habitat loss, and development in panther range continue to be threats. Florida panthers are still inching back from the brink of extinction. The construction of new houses, roads, and airports in Southwest Florida continue to squeeze the panthers out and fragment their habitat, increasing the likelihood that cats will be hit by cars.

Humans are one of the panther's greatest threats. This also means that we can directly affect the panther's future. It's sad to say that Florida panthers are killed by cars and trucks, particularly on State Road 29 and Alligator Alley (I-75), and - although it is against the law - hunters also still shoot panthers occasionally. In 2016 a record 34 Florida panthers were killed by vehicle collisions. Road kills took 23 panthers in 2017 and as of April 2018, 14 dead panthers have been discovered 2018.

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