Date of this Version
There are only 30 to 50 adult Florida panthers left in the wild, making Florida's official state animal one of the most endangered mammals in the world. At one time perhaps 3,000 or more Florida panthers ranged throughout Florida, northward through Georgia, parts of South Carolina, and Tennessee, and westward through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and possibly eastern Texas. Today, the Florida panther's range is limited to parts of southern Florida, including the Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades.
Initially, the Florida panter's decline was due to excessive hunting because of an unfounded fear for livestock and human safety. More recently, loss of its habitat has left the Florida panther with fewer places to live and find food. Extensive inbreeding- the result of isolation from other populations with which it once intermingled- has diminished the Florida panther's gene pool. Highway mortality and fighting between individuals, particularly males, have futher reduced Florida panther numbers.