Florida Panthers' Path Expands

JHT Staff Writer

     The endangered Florida panther has been spotted north of the Caloosahatchee River. Last year, biologists spotted a female panther, and more recently two baby panthers in the area, which haven’t been seen in the region since 1973.

     These sightings provide evidence that the dwindling species is rebounding in more parts of the state besides southwestern Florida.

     “This is good news for the Florida panther conservation”, said Kipp Frohlich of the Wildlife Conservation Commission to the Tampa Bay Times. “Until now, we only had evidence of panthers breeding south of the Caloosahatchee.”

     In the past, panthers roamed much of the southeastern part of the country. By the 1970s, the population of panthers had dropped significantly, and were found only southwest Florida. At one point, there were only 20 to 30 known panthers in existence.

     As the human population grew, more of the panther’s habitat was being developed. In order to be saved from extinction, the cats began to move northward from southwest Florida. They made new colonies and populated the Caloosahatchee River, which would explain the recent citings.

     The population of Florida panther is now estimated to be nearing 200.