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An Overdue Review Of The Florida Panther's Endangered Status

Photo courtesy National Audubon Society
Photo courtesy National Audubon Society

The Florida panther's endangered status is under review.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is calling on the public to share new information about the official state animal.

The five-year review is required under the Endangered Species Act but overdue. The last one occurred in 2009.

Elizabeth Fleming of Defenders of Wildlife says among the things under deliberation is whether the animal genetically is unique enough to be considered a distinct subspecies.

"This animal is fully part of this landscape, and because it's the only remnant population still breeding in the eastern part of the country it deserves its place on the landscape, and it deserves protection."

The Florida panther's population a half-century ago was believed to be as low as 12. Today the number is as high as 230, and the animal is poised to outgrow its habitat, which is disappearing as development booms.

A public comment period ends Aug. 29.

Comments can be mailed to South Florida Ecological Services Field Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 12085 State Road 29 S, Immokalee, Florida 34142; faxed to 772-562-4288. Or, contact David Shindle by phone at 239-657-8013, or by e-mail at


Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.