Recovering Florida Panthers
The Florida panther, a distinct subspecies of cougar or mountain lion, once ranged across the entire Southeast from eastern Texas to Tennessee and Georgia. The low point for the population was reached in the 1960s when there were perhaps less than a dozen animals left in Florida forests. The population of Florida panthers has grown since then to about 100 individuals in the wild, but only twenty to thirty of them are breeding. Florida panthers represent a distinct genetic lineage of cougar that has adapted wonderfully to the harsh conditions of the Southeast. They behave differently than western or Texas mountain lions, they have a distinctly different appearance, and they seem to have a talent for survival.
We spoke with David Maehr about his work on the Florida panther research and recovery efforts.