As the only remaining population of mountain lions occurring east of the Mississippi, Florida panthers have been the focus of much attention and research. Most of this work has been conducted by the Florida panther by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife.
If we have overlooked a research study, please do contact us and let us know so we can update the page.
In 1950, Florida panther status changed from being considered a "nuisance species" to being considered a game animal. Eight years later it became listed as a state endangered species, and nearly a decade later they were listed on the federal endangered species list in 1967. Intensive research on the species wasn't started until the early 1980's. The main motivation for this research was to prevent the small remnant population of 20 to 30 individuals from becoming extinct. This work focused on improving the health of the population by bolstering the genetic variation contained within in the population, protecting important habitat, and reducing collisions with vehicular traffic.
The research has been wildly successful and has contributed to an over 5-fold increase in Florida panthers. Some of the direct actions this research last led to is creating safe passage for wildlife crossings, directional fencing, and reduced speed zones through sensitive areas.
Since this research began, Florida's human population has grown considerably. The recovering Florida panther population and increase in human presence, with accompanying livestock and pets, sometimes run into conflict where they meet in ever-shrinking habitat. In addition, hunting groups have expressed concern that the rise in panther numbers is reducing deer herds.
Whether there is a future for panthers within the state will depend on habitat protection, population management, as well as developing strategies for resolving recently emerging social acceptance issues. Getting ahead of and resolving potential conflicts between panthers and humans may be the biggest challenge for managing the species.