The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has launched a new website that makes it easy for citizens who spot Florida panthers to share the information online.
The site – https://Public.MyFWC.com/hsc/PantherSightings/ – enables the public to report when and where they have seen a panther or its tracks and upload photos of the sighting.
As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild. Now there are an estimated 100 to 160 adults and sub-adults. Sub-adults are panthers that have left their mother but are not yet breeding age.
The growing population of this endangered species and its need to roam over large areas mean panthers are spreading beyond their well-documented south Florida range. The FWC has evidence of panther sightings throughout Florida and is getting increased reports from people lucky enough to have photographed a panther or its tracks.
“While it’s encouraging to hear from a person who is excited about seeing a Florida panther, the FWC has to have specific documentation of the panther sighting to provide sound science-based panther management,” said Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader. “We’ve been receiving a lot of panther pictures from people who use trail cameras, and this website makes it easy for them to share that information with the FWC.”
FWC researchers will use the reported sightings to gain knowledge on the range of Florida panthers.
“The comeback of the Florida panther is a great example of what coordinated conservation efforts can accomplish,” Land said. “The FWC is asking people to help document how panthers are responding to these conservation efforts and where they are coexisting with Florida’s 19 million human residents.”
Learn more about the Florida panther at FloridaPantherNet.org/. The site includes information about panthers for people of different interest levels, including a coloring book and activity pages for kids.