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Top: Female Panther #78, with its eye reflecting the remote camera flash, leads its 2- month old kitten down a trail one night (photo by Ricky Pires); bottom: a female belted kingfisher roosts in a cypress tree at night, when panthers are most active.

and reproduction problems due to inbreeding. In 1995, eight female Texas cougars (Puma concolor stanleyanai),were relocated to south Florida. These females bred with Florida panther males, increasing the genetic health of the panther population. Since 1995, the population of Florida panthers has increased from less than 50 to more than 80 due to the influence of the Texas genes. The offspring of the Texas cougars are considered to be Florida panthers and are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

What are the threats to panthers? The most profound and continuing threat to their survival can be traced to an increasing human population. As available habitat disappears due to human development and conversion to agriculture, the cats are squeezed into smaller areas, resulting in increased intra-specific aggression, which is the leading cause of panther mortality.

Additionall , more development means more roads and more panthers killed by collisions with vehicles. Diseases, such as Feline Leukemia, a disease transmitted to panthers by domestic cats, also kill these magnificent animals.

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