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State, Feds Say Panther Population Rising

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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Accurate numbers are hard to come by, but state and federal wildlife officials are raising their official estimate of the number of endangered Florida Panthers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission say the new population estimate is between 120 and 230 adults and sub-adults – animals still not sexually mature.   

That’s good news because the 2014 estimate was 100 to 180. Officials say conservation efforts appear to be paying off. Most of the panthers live in Southwest Florida, below the Caloosahatchee River.

Researchers stress that the estimate is an extrapolation from sightings on public lands. The state is considering greater use of trail cameras and road mortality data.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.