The most endangered of all Florida's symbols is its state animal, the panther (Felis concolor coryi) which was chosen in 1982 by a vote of students throughout the state.
The Florida Panther is a large, long-tailed, pale brown cat that grows to six feet or longer. Its habitat is usually the same as that of the white-tailed deer, which is the mainstay of its diet.
Much folklore surrounds these seldom-seen cats, sometimes called "catamounts" or "painters, " and they have been persecuted out of fear and misunderstanding of the role these large predators play in the natural ecosystem. Human population growth has been the primary threat to the panther's range and continues to diminish the quality of existing habitats.
The Panther has been protected from legal hunting in Florida since 1958. It has been on the federal endangered species list since 1967 and on the state's endangered list since 1973. The future of this large animal depends entirely on the management decisions that are made today on its behalf. The Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission is responsible for management and preservation of this endangered State Animal, but only with your support will the Florida Panther remain a part of our unique wildlife community.