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1990-2000

1991
Gainesville animal rights activist Holly Jensen and the Fund for Animals sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) over the captive breeding plan. They argue that no provisions have been for reintroducing captive-breed cats in south Florida and that the impacts of removing adult panthers on current panther social structure have not been addressed. A settlement is reached. FWS agrees that only kittens will be removed and that a habitat protection plan will be prepared.

Florida panther license plates go on sale.

Six Kittens removed from the wild for captive breeding program.
Below: Melody Roelke and kitten taken for captive breeding program

Panther collared


Florida human population reaches 12.0 million.

1992
Population viability analysis study of the Florida panther concludes that under current demographic and genetic conditions the Florida panther will likely be extinct in 24-63 years without management intervention (Seal et al., 1992).

Four more kittens removed from the wild for the captive breeding program.

1993
Habitat Preservation Plan identifies occupied and potential panther habitat, threats to habitat, and options to maintain sufficient habitat for a self-sustaining population (a minimum of 50 adults) of panthers in south Florida. (See Map)

Habitat Preservation Plan Cover Page

Completion of wildlife crossings and fencing along I-75.

Florida panther and other subspecies of cougar are classified from genus Felis to genus Puma (Wilson and Reed: 1995).

Florida panther license plates are designed by Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission artist Peggy Perkerson. As of 8/1/97, 275,636 panther tags were sold.

1993-1995
Second north Florida reintroduction study; concluded that reestablishment was biologically feasible, but that complex social issues needed to be addressed.

Conversion of Alligator Alley to Interstate 75 begun, with wildlife underpasses included in the highway design.

1994
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approves the Florida Panther Interagency Committee plan for genetic restoration of the Florida panther. Florida Panther Society formed, a grassroots organization to support the Florida panther.

Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission publishes Closing the Gaps in Florida's Wildlife Habitat Conservation System mapping potential Florida panther habitat in southwest Florida and Proposed Strategic Habitat Conservation areas for the Florida panther. (See Map)

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service completes preliminary analysis of potential Florida population reestablishment sites. Fourteen sites are identified as suitable for panther occupation throughout historic range in southeastern U.S. (Jordan 1994).

Genetic restoration implemented with release of 8 female Texas cougars into south Florida to restore genetic diversity of the Florida panther.

Jumping Panther
Jumping panther - Chris Belder


A Landowners Strategy for Protecting Panther Habitat on Private Lands in south Florida contains a proposed plan developed by a group of private landowners to preserve the habitat of the endangered Florida panther and other wildlife on private land.

1996
In late December, while radiotracking an adult female in a palmetto thicket, veterinarian Sharon Taylor and biologists from the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission were surprised when she didn't move. They then found she had 2 kittens (1 male and 1 female) less than a week old. The picture below is the only known photo from south Florida of a mother and her kittens in the wild.

Mother Panther with Kittens

South Florida Water Management District purchases 21,000 acres of Okaloacoochee Slough in Hendry County. (See Map)

Picayune Strand State Forest (formerly Southern Golden Gates Estates) established. (See Map)

Beginning of a sociological study of issues relating to reintroduction.

Transfer of land for addition to Big Cypress National preserve completed.


1997
Florida population: 14.7 million

1998
Florida population: 15 million.
Of the total of 12 kittens born to the Texas cougars in south Florida, 11 are thought to still be alive. All the kittens have appeared healthy and none have kinked tails or cowlicks (Land: personal communication).

"The Texas cougars have not displaced any of the Florida panthers or disrupted panther social organization. None of the cougars has posed a threat to humans" (Land and Taylor 1998).
Revision of Florida panther recovery plan.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prepares Multi-Species Recovery Plan for the south Florida Ecosystem.

Caloosahatchee Ecoscape, a 15,391-acre corridor linking panther habitat in Glades and Hendry counties, is ranked 26th on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Conservation and Recreational Lands priority list.

On April 13, the first radio-collared panther was documented dispersing north of the Caloosahatchee through Fisheating Creek. (See Map)

Completion of sociological study of issues relating to reintroduction.

1999
Weekend of May 7-8, the second panther, another young male crosses the Caloosahatchee River.

2000
Florida Game and Fish Commission becomes Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.