Florida Panther

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As the deer fed at the marsh's edge, it's tail flickering as it nibbled tender and ripe green growth. Then the nervous animal pauses in it's feeding and lifted its head to listen. Whatever hint of danger the deer had sensed was ignored once the threat could not be located. It stamped a forefoot, lowered its head and began to eat once more, this deer had failed to detect a Florida panther that was downwind (going into the wind) crouched low in the underbrush. Amber eyes however, estimated the distance between himself and the deer. Then at the right moment attacked the deer, with bounds at over twenty feet at a time the panther exploded out of the underbrush pouncing on the deer and forcing it to the ground. Within fifteen seconds that panther stood breathing heavily over his unfortunate victim of life and death. This scene has been going on for many years, the battle of predator and prey, but know the new predators are humans almost virtually wiping out the entire population leaving only an estimated 30 - 50 Florida panthers left. Should the environmental leaders of Florida protect the Florida panther? The people of Florida think so, and that is why they named it their state animal. This panther is one of about thirty subspecies of Felis concolor. The subspecies, coryi is one of the rarest and most endangered animals in the world. Panthers, also called pumas, cougars, screamers, and mountain lions, once ranged from the southern end of South America into Canada. In appearance the Florida panther is similar to other panthers, however this rare subspecies has several distinct characteristics such as, white flecks on the shoulders, a cowlick on the back (a cowlick is a tuft of hair that cannot easily be flattened) and a crook in the tail. This is formed by the last three bones in the tail, that is bent forming the stump on the end. Panthers have an average length of six to nine feet from the nose to the tip of tail, stand up to twenty-eight inches in height, and weigh from fifty to one hundred-thirty pounds. These panthers are solitary and territorial animals and seldomly live together except for mating season. Following an approximate 90 day gestation period the females are more sedentary once the usual two to three kittens are born, but more than one kitten rarely survives and that is another reason for the low panther count. Flor... ... middle of paper ... ...eestablish this subspecies' old and unoccupied range areas. These goals were assisted in 1983 when the Florida Legislature established the Florida Panther Technical Advisory Council. The commission is firmly committed to take all necessary actions within their given authority to assure recovery for the Florida panther. The panthers are still going to need broad public support and active cooperation among all management. “Civilization is the main threat to the survival of the Florida panther…”, and so it will be until we learn how to respect these species that occupied the land we take before us. A land that was not ours to take and land we truly do need as bad for survival as these creatures. Works Cited: 1. Alden, Peter, Rich Cech, and Gil Nelson. 1998. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Florida. New York: Knopf. 2. Brown, Larry W. 1997. Mammals of Florida. Miami, Florida: Windward Publishing. 3. Land, Darrell, and Sharon K. Taylor. 1998. Florida Panther Genetic Restoration and Management. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. 4. Taylor, Sharon K. 1997. Florida Panther Biomedical Investigations. Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.

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