FLORIDA PANTHERS ARE SAVED BY THEIR COUGAR COUSINS

There most likely would be fewer than 10 Florida panthers stalking the states forests today if it wasn’t for the Texas cougar, scientists say.

The first cougars came in 1995, when officials released eight female Texas cougars in South Florida as a way to broaden the genetic diversity of what was then a dying population.

Had those cougars not been released, a recent University of Florida report finds, the state’s official animal would likely be extinct.

“We found that the Florida population would’ve declined, on average, by about 5 percent per year,” said Madan Oli, a University of Florida professor and one of the authors of the report. “And that’s essentially telling us there was a high chance that the population would’ve eventually gone extinct.”

The report said there is a 71 percent chance that only 10 of the endangered cats would be alive in the wild today if not for the genetic infusion. The breeding project, somewhat controversial at that time, has boosted panther population across much of South Florida’s undeveloped lands.

“The ultimate situation would have been their extinction had we not taken action,” said Darrell Land, a biologist and panther team leader for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The clock was ticking.”

Today, panther numbers hover around 150 of juvenile and breeding age. That’s more than five times the number of cats thought to be in the wild in 1995, when the Texas cougar genetic restoration project started. Some researchers estimated there were six or fewer panthers alive in Florida during the 1980’s. READ MORE

cougar_wild_SOTI

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Cougar, Wild Species and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s