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These sleek beautiful creatures now number less than 300 in the Florida wild. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, they are doing better but need help — learn how!


Peter Gros: It’s National Wildlife Week! We’re lucky to be here talking about the Florida panther. Whether you call it a Florida panther, or a cougar, or a mountain lion, this is a cat that ranged all over America years ago. Here in Florida, there are less than 300 left now. But thanks to the Endangered Species Act, they’re protected, and their numbers are doing much better.

David Mizejewski: Exactly. And there are this special kind of mountain lion, cougar, whatever you want to call it, like you said, Peter, that only lives here in Florida today. It used to range across the whole coastal South, but because of habitat destruction and persecution by people, they disappeared. But again, the good news is because of laws like the Endangered Species Act, because of the work of groups like the Florida Wildlife Federation right here in Florida, they’re coming back! And so we are actually standing in the middle of perfect prime Florida panther habitat.

Peter Gros: This is absolutely perfect prime Florida panther habitat. There are deer, there are raccoons, there are muskets, there are skunks, all the things that they like to prey on. There are people living not that far away, but they are elusive — mountain lions don’t like to be around people. If you do happen to see one and probably early in the morning or late at night, it tends to want to get away from you. Never run — face it, look big, make noise, and they’re going to walk away and leave you alone.

David Mizejewski: That’s right. Now, if you do have pets or livestock, it’s important if you live in Florida panther territory, you want to bring them in at night. That’s just going to keep them safe from the small possibility of predation. And that’s a good way that we can all live in harmony with wildlife, which really is what National Wildlife Week is all about. So I hope that everybody takes the pledge right here on our website.


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