Florida Panther

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Why this animal?

I choose the Florida Panther for a few reasons. One, they are one of my favorite animals and I want to learn more about them. Two, I had no idea that panthers even lived in the United States and that interested me in learning more about them. They live in Florida and down south where I love to travel. They are endangered and I feel as it is our duty to teach people about these animals and try to save them. There are many organizations and naturalist that are doing things to help save the panthers. This is very interesting to me because I want to help save the panther. And by having these groups out there it gives me hope that we can save the panther before extinction. Not only do I want to learn more about the panthers, but I want to learn more about the people trying to save them. Panthers are a great animal that we can’t afford to lose. Panthers interest me in many ways and this is why I choose this animal to research.

Food Web:


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Research Location:


The minute I got off the plane I was blasted with humidity. My hair frizzed, I got all sticky, and I was ready for the adventure. I started by getting my bags from the plane and put it in the car. I drove to the everglade research center where I would start my exploration of the Florida Panther. This is a very unique area because people are destroying this area for new homes. The everglades have many different animals and plants. Some of the main plants I am studying are the cattails, milkweed, and salt grass. These 3 plants each have their own role in balancing out the biome of the Everglades. I am going to talk about what these plants look like, what they do for the biome, and what animals are affected by these plants.

The first plant I found and studied was the cattails. These plants are a piece of green grass with a brown sponge at the top. They grow in ditches and small water basins where they can have enough water for all the plants to have the exact amount of water for its needs. They help the biome by providing food, shelter, nesting, and cover for many wetland inhabitants.

The next plant is the milkweed. These plants look like small green stalky trees with soft leaves growing off of the main stalk. They grow all around the everglades in various areas. The milkweed plant helps the biome by providing the main food source for the monarch caterpillar. It also provides food and shelter for other inhabitants.

The last plant is salt grass. This plant resembles our prairie grass in size with a brown color. This type of grass is found where the salt and fresh water meets. The salt grass provides food for the animals that live in the Everglades.

There are 3 main water sources in the Everglades. The first is rainfall. The average rainfall for the Everglades is around 54 inches a year, compared to Iowa’s average of 35 inches per year. The second is, the Kissimmee River that fills Lake Okeechobee which then over flows and forms a slow moving river and flows south into the Everglades. The last source is when the salt water tides enter the Everglades and meets up with the fresh water ponds. This then forms an area which is not fully either type of water. This mixture of fresh water and salt water which is called “Estuary”.

The Florida Panther is the main predator of the Everglades. If you take one animal out of the food change the food chain is destroyed. Us as humans must stop the killing of these panthers because by us killing off the main predator we are destroying the balance of the food change. If there is no predator to kill the little prey then the prey take over and the food change isn’t balanced. As humans we killed off so many panthers they we started to effect the food change and the panthers became endangered. By us destroying the Everglades, we aren’t only taking way land and animal lives, but we are making a negative impact on the animal food chain and our own as well.

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Wildlife Monitoring Technique:


I choose to do radio telemetry for my wildlife monitoring technique for a few reasons. I believe this is the best way to capture my animal’s movement because it shows where they were at what time which can show their hunting habits. Also, it shows how they have a relationship with their environment because if their enemy hunts during the day, or vice versa, the panther hunts during the opposite time slot. Little things like this you might not be able to capture in let’s say a sensor camera. I have also tried setting up cameras to capture the animal in its action and I have found that depending on what panthers live in the area the camera is the more or less action you see. Some groups are very active around the camera. Others hardly ever move where the camera is located. This all has to do with the specific personality of the panthers and how aware they are with their surroundings. Radio telemetry shows how the panther moves around its environment without having to see the panther’s actual body.
*About 30 to 35 juvenile and adult Florida Panthers wear radio collars as part of the Florida Panther Recovery Program*

Florida Panther Adaptions:

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Observation Journal:

Day 1: Today has been amazing! I headed out into the Everglades with my guide in an air boat to try to see the panther in its natural habitat. After about 3 hours exploring the everglades something caught my attention. A sound I had only heard on TV. On that was scary but yet interesting. I turned my head 90 degrees to the right and saw a pair of yellow dagger eyes staring straight at me. I knew right then and there I found a Florida Panther. Chills ran through me and I was so excited. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see one today but I did. It was a beautiful creature with its huge ears, big feet, and straight ahead looking eyes. When we started to go closer the panther sprinted away in order to warn other panthers of our presence. I didn’t get much information on the panther but I was able to see the panther in its natural habit and that was the best thing that could have happened on my first day in the Everglades.

Day 2: Today was just as great as yesterday! It started off with a small rain shower at 4:30 a.m. but by the time we had breakfast and got our boat and supplies ready it was a sunny 86 degree day! So we headed out in search of the panther. We took tons of pictures of the habit and other animals that have relationships with the panther but no sightings of the panther today. We found lots of plants that the panthers eat and we believe we saw a den of where the panthers even live. Will we had a break and time to explore I found tracks of a panther. I am going to have the pictures placed in the Observation Journal pictures down below with some more in-depth information on them. Today was tiring and I need to head to bed so tomorrow I will be ready to see the panthers again!

Day 3: Today was a bust. It was raining all day and the swamps raised a foot. Our boat was not able to head out today to research the behaviors and relationships of the Florida Panther so right now I am just planning out what I need to find.
Here is what I have so far:
  • Who they mostly hunt
  • When they hunt the most
  • How long is their hunting period
  • How old do you have to be to hunt
  • Who they mostly in contact with
I will be well rested for tomorrow to find some panthers! There is a huge storm coming so I must head back inside for shelter. Talk to you tomorrow!

Day 4: The rain finally cleared! We headed out at 5:15 a.m. to see the panthers in their morning hunting action. We were lucky enough to see a group of panthers hunting. I saw an alpha male, 5 older males, and 4 younger males. They seemed to all follow the alpha and his hissing noises which seemed to signal something to them. One hiss made them run faster, another hiss made them run slower. The panthers were chasing what seemed to be a few small white-tailed deer. We followed them for about 25 minutes watching them hunt, rest, and drink water. We then left the pack to find some more panthers. We headed about 5 miles down the swamp and we saw some young panthers. They were playing and messing around as cubs. They seemed too watched by the mothers of the pack. I learned a lot about the gender roles of the panthers and this was a great discovery!

Day 5: All I can say is...WOW! Today was by far the best day I have had my entire trip here! We were riding in our air boats as usual when out of the corner of my eye I saw a female panther. We drove slowly up to the panther trying not to frighten her. She didn’t seem to mind at all! She just laid there up in the tree. I saw in total shock. I was within 3 feet of the tree she was in. She looked at as a few times but never really did anything. I took notes on her general appearance in case I didn’t have the chance to see her again. She was a tan color. Her color got darker the closer to the spine. From what I could see she has a white underneath and black on the back of her ears. This was a great discovery for me. I finally have information on how the panther looked first hand. I wanted to observe her more so we decided to park the boat and hang out watching this beautiful panther for a few hours. After talking to the other people on my trip we decided this would be a great panther to name and monitor. My group decided to name her Tally after the Florida capital city “Tallahassee”. Below this journal entry I am posting a video on how we collar panthers to monitor them. All in all, today was a great day!

Day 6: Today we headed into the actual forest of the Everglades. We were trying to find anything that we could use to help us better understand the panthers. We found weeds pushed down where the panthers laid. We also found what looked like bones of small animals that the panthers ate. After taking pictures of these bones and took samples we were able to identify what animal it was and how long it has been dead. The animal was a 2 year old white-tailed deer and it has been dead for around two days. This was a great discovery in that we know an area where panthers are or have been recently. This can help us find panthers easier. We documented this area and headed farther into the Everglades. We were searching for a place that the panthers could live. We were searching for places on the ground where it looked like it could be a home for a panther or it looked like a panther had lived there. Panthers like to live in hardwood hammocks so we were searching for them as well. The last place we looked at was upper pinelands so see if there was any evidence that panthers were there. We were able to find scat and what looked like urine about 2/3 mile away from where we found the bones. We took samples from each and tested them. When the results came back it ended up that the scat was from a panther but the urine was from a white tailed deer which made since because the bones were also from a white tailed deer. All in all today we made progress in seeing how the panther uses the environment for its own gain.

Day 7: Today I decided not to head out in search of the panthers today. A few days ago when I had down time I created a list of things I wanted to find out. On the down time I had on other days I was able to find some information on these topics. Most of my topics or thing I wanted to fin d out where about the panthers hunting habits. Everything from who they hunt, when they hunt, how long do the panthers usually hunt, and how old you have to be to hunt. I interviewed a few people on the trip, looked at other people’s notes from past researching adventures, and looked on the internet. I have found that the main animal the panthers hunt are the white tailed deer. They usually go after the young female deer because they are easier to catch. Also, they are usually out with other females with the young deer. The panthers have a very unique brain. They can remember when and where the usually find their prey. Depending on what food source they are going after depends on when they hunt. If they are going after deer, they will go out around dawn and dusk. The deer are out then trying to hide from their predators. When a male panther starts to hunt it is around the age of 2. It is sexually mature at the age of 3. So by starting hunting at age 2 they have a year of “training” on how to get food for his family. The panthers will hunt as long at they need to in order to make sure everyone in their family is well feed. If they don’t get as much food in the morning they will try extra hard to get food at night or vise versa. The hunting roles of the panthers is a great example of the panther gender roles.

Day 8: Since I only have about 4 days left here I decided to do something daring. I wanted to monitor what the Florida Panther from the minute the sun comes up to the minute the sun goes down. I am going to be spending tonight in the Everglades with the panthers all around me pacing back and forth waiting for their prey to come. I am packing a flashlight, pepper spray, a blanket, water bottle, food, notebook, writing utensils, camera, extra battery, walkie-talkie, and other exploring tools. I am heading out to the forest around 6:30 p.m. to set up camp before the night comes. I will be staying out there for entire day. Which means my airboat will come pick me up at 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. Well right now it’s about 6:15 p.m. and I better be loading all my stuff on the boat. I will tell you all about my wild adventure tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Day 9: Staying all night in the wild with panthers and other animals rooming around you is scary! Every little sound whether it’s a hiss or a little branch breaking, it sounds like a bomb going off. Seeing glowing eyes and hearing howls was amazing. It really opened my eyes into how the animals interact with each other at night. I could hear what sounded like fighting sounds. Now some of you might think “wow this girl is crazy sleeping out in the Everglades where any animal could come and attack her at any moment.” Yes, I am crazy but I am crazy in the way I care for these animals. I needed to sleep our there during the night to discover things most scientist don’t have. The relationships that are hidden until dark, the actions the panthers do when their pray don’t see them coming. There are a lot of animals active at night. The panthers begin being active around 12:30 a.m. and stop around 2:00 a.m. They then wake up and start being active again around 4:30 a.m. and stop around 7:00 am the panthers are active during this time because of their prey and to stay out of the hot Florida heat. Staying up all night in the Everglades was one of the best experiences I have ever had.

Day 10: I am on my second last research day. So I have made the decision that the last two days I am going to spend every waking moment in the Everglade forest taking notes, watching the wildlife, and observing all the relationships. Not just the relationships of the panthers but every relationship in the Everglades. I was hoping by doing this I might be able to see some different relationships that are not well seen if you just research one certain animal. Every relationship interacts with the other relationships in its habitat. I am going to looking for information that can help me understand the panther’s relationship with the animals in this area and the plants. Some of the notes I have found is that panthers use trees as “safety” nets to stay away from predators. In this case, they run and hide from the humans who have dogs with them to find the panthers. This is a great example of a communalist relationship. The panther gets shelter from the tree but the tree isn’t bothered by this but it doesn’t get anything out of it. Little do the panthers know that the humans are trying to help them by giving them medical treatment and tracking them for their safety. This is example of a mutualistic relationship. Both the human and panthers benefit. The panthers get the medical attention they need. The humans then get information from the panther while they are tracking them. I was lucky enough to witness a third relationship. Because the panthers eat White Tailed Deer I decided to study them as well. I saw on a White Tailed Deer that the deer had many ticks on it. This is an example of parasitism. The tick gets the blood and becomes stronger. The deer loses blood and becomes weak. This relationship is also a mutualistic relationship between the panther and the tick. The tick gets the blood from the deer and makes the deer weak. Then the panther comes in and doesn’t have to work as hard to get catch and kill the deer because of the fact that it is already weak from the tick taking all of its blood.

Day 11: Yesterday was a great. I found out a lot of great information about the Florida Panthers and their relationships. By finding these relationships and documenting them, not only did I help my researcher group but the future groups studying animals in the Everglades. Again I headed out in search of the relationship between the plants and the panthers. I found a relationship between the panthers and ferns. The panthers lay on top of the ferns for a bed. This is an example of a communalistic relationship because the ferns give the panther’s protection from bugs and a place to sleep. The ferns get nothing out of this arrangement but they are ok with that. There are many plants the panthers come in contact with but ferns are by far the biggest. Well I am headed to bed. I have to wake up early to leave Florida. I have a great time here. Goodnight and goodbye.

Day 12: Well today is the day I leave Florida. L I had such a great experience here. Being able to go out in the Everglades and seeing panthers in person was amazing. And being able to track a panther was even better. Even though I am leaving Florida, I am still helping track Tally. I will make trip down to Florida every 3 months. If they need me I will go down sooner. Being able to be a part of a Florida Panther research team was something I wouldn’t trade for anything. I hope you had just as much fun reading my page as I did researching and creating it. God bless.

Observation Journal Pictures:

While I am out observing the panthers I am going to be taking pictures of what I see in my day. Below you will see what day these pictures where taken and a short description of what the pictures are of and why I took them.
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In my Observation Journal I talk alot about the airboat I ride on to get around the Everglades so here is a picture of what the airboat looks like.

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Day 1: Panther Eyes
On my first day out searching for the panther I saw one. Not the whole panther but its eyes. I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped a shot so you can all see what I saw that first night.
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Day 2: Panther Footprint
As I said above in my Day 2 journal entry I found a panther footprint in the sand by the river we were on. I was so excited that I had to share it with you. Just to give you a comparison on how big the foot is I borrowed a pocket knife from a guy also on the trip and laid it next to it.
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Day 3: Everglade Storm
On my 3rd day in Florida there was a huge rain storm. I have never felt wind this strong! I quickly grabbed my camera and captured a picture of the everglades from my camps viewing site. Even though I didn’t get to see any panthers I got a lot of research done.
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Day 4: Panther Cubs
I got to see 3 panther cubs playing together. It was a great discovery to see young panthers because they are endangered. Seeing offspring brought a tear to my eye I was so happy. Plus..they are so cute!
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Day 5: Female Panther In A Tree
This is a picture of Tally. The panther I am monitoring. We snapped a quick picture of her in the tree before we collared her. It was great to get this close to a panther to actually see their coat color and be able to collar one.
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Day 6: White Tail Deer Skeleton
While I was searching for evidence of Florida Panthers I came across this skeleton of a White Tail Deer; the panthers main food source.
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Day 7: Panther Hunting Pose
Today I did a lot of research on the hunting habits of the Flordia Panther. I found this picture in a fellow researchers Florida Panther journal. I think it is a great picture because it shows how the panther acts when its in its hunting mode.
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Day 8: Florida Panther In Water
These are panther I spoted while in my airboat headed to my camp site. Every exciting!
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Day 9: Florida Everglades At Night
This is what I saw when I looked out of my tent. Breath taking.
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Day 10: Ticks On White Tailed Deer
This is a close up of ticks on a White Tailed Deer which is an example of a Parastism relationship.
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Day 11: Ferns Panthers Sleep On
This is what the ferns look like before the Panthers lay them down. They protect the panthers from insects. This is an example of
Commensalism Relationship because the panthers get protection but the ferns don't get anything from this.
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Day 12: Bird's Eye View Of Everglades
This is the view outside of my airplane window. I will miss this. But I will be back soon to see you. The Florida Panther research team is an amazing group of people and I will never forget you.

Help Save The Florida Panther:


The Florida Panther is an animal that we cannot afford to lose. The Florida Panther is currently listed at "Endangered" under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is also considered “Critically Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The panther is being endangered because of many different variables. A few are collisions with vehicles, disease, inbreeding because of isolated population, mercury poisoning, parasites, and many more. Us as humans must take blame for the loss of this amazing animal. We must do whatever it takes to save the panther. If you would like to help save the panther or learn more about the endangered animal
Links to Learn More:
As you see in the picture below the panther habitat is decreasing as we speak. How would you like it if some big strange creature came and took over your home? This what the panthers are feeling and we must stop it.

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Here are some tips on Panther Safety:


Researcher Profile:

The Florida Panther Net is a part of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. This group of naturalist focuses on the safety of the panthers. They also focus on keeping the public informed on the panthers and how to help keep them well populated. Florida’s state animal is the Florida. How bad would it be to lose your state animal to extinction? The answer to that question is pretty bad. That’s why the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission are taking the extra steps to hire certain people to make sure their state animal stays safe. The most important thing to this group is saving the panther at any cost. They hold classes for people to be able to learn about panthers. On their website they have tons of downloads. Some downloads are: coloring books, field notes, father in-depth reading about certain topics, articles, and any other paper work you would need. They also have tons of pictures for everyone to see. This organization I admire in the fact that they are very open with what they are doing. They want the community, the country, and the world to know exactly what they are doing to protect the panther. In order to make sure people have the right information to help they have a question area. This is where they answer FAQ. They also take questions from the world. You can ask any question about the Florida Panther or anything else you want to know about the Florida wildlife. I hope someday that I can talk to someone from this group or maybe even have the chance to go down to Florida and meet this amazing group of people that are so determined to save this animal. The Florida Panther is one lucky animal to have all these people in love with it and doing whatever they can to save it.
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Panther Videos:


Intresting Panther Facts:

  • The Florida Panther can leap 15 feet in the air.
  • The Florida Panther can 35 mph for short distances.
  • There are only about 80 panthers left in the wild.
  • The Florida Panther measures about 7ft from nose to tip of tail.
  • The panther’s tail is 2/3 of their body length.
  • The male panther defends around 200 sq. miles of territory while the female only defends around 75 sq. miles.
  • A Florida Panther kitten has blue eyes when its born. Once it turns 6 months old, the eyes turn brown and they lose all their spots.

Bibliography:

"Florida PantherNet." PantherNet : About PantherNet. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. <http://www.floridapanthernet.org/index.php/about/>.

Howard, C. 2002. "Puma concolor coryi" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed February 23, 2012 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Puma_concolor_coryi.html

"Puma Concolor CoryiFlorida Panther." ADW: Puma Concolor Coryi: INFORMATION. Web. 12 Feb. 2012. <http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Puma_concolor_coryi.html>.

"Florida Panther." Endangered. 2006. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. <http://www.eparks.org/wildlife_protection/wildlife_facts/florida_panther.asp>.

"Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge | U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region." U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Home. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 14 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2012. http://www.fws.gov/floridapanther/.

"Florida Panther Facts." Welcome to Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge. Florida Panther Refuge, 2007. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. http://www.floridapanther.org/panther_facts.html.


"Wetland Biome." Interesting Animal Facts. 2009. Web. Jan. 2012. http://www.bioexpedition.com/wetland-biome.html.


Utah Education Network. Web. Jan. 2012. <http://www.uen.org/utahlink/tours/tourViewCategory.cgi?tour_id=1006>.