The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is asking the public to send them their Florida panther sightings and photographs.
To make reporting any sightings easier, the FWC has launched a new website.
The site allows people to enter where they saw the panther or its tracks and has the ability for people to upload pictures.
The FWC said there were as few as 20 Florida panthers in the wild as recently as the 1970s. Now, the FWC estimates 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.
With an increase in the endangered species population, FWC said the panthers' need to roam is causing them to spread beyond their well-documented south Florida range. There is even evidence of panther sightings throughout Florida. FWC has seen an increase in reports from people who have photographed a panther or its tracks.
Darrell Land, FWC panther team leader, said, "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. 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."
Researchers with FWC will use the sighting information to gain knowledge on the Florida panther's increasing range.
"The comeback of the Florida panther is a great example of what coordinated conservation efforts can accomplish. 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, " said Land.
For more information on Florida panthers, visit this website. It has information about panthers for people of all ages and interest levels, and even has a coloring book and activity pages for kids.
First Coast News