Into the Panther's Den

Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Collier County

short trail

Your first steps onto the trailways of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge are through a tall metal gate that swings closed behind you. It's the same type of gate at the Big Cypress Preserve trailheads along I75, but because this is Florida Panther, it just feels different. There are only about 100 adult panthers statewide; a male panther requires 200 square miles of territory to support himself. Add to that the fact that panthers, like most big mammals, tend to lay low during the heat of the day and the odds of spotting a big cat are on the long side. But still you know they are here. Somewhere. Maybe in the prairies, Maybe in the hammocks, like the one you're walking through. Maybe in the flatwoods, but Puma concolor coryi is lurking somewhere. This is the one-third-mile short trail, crushed rock and wide enough to accomodate a car, smooth enough to handle a wheelchair. It leads to an overlook on a wide prairie. No panthers so far. Maybe one is lurking in the grasses of the prairie, the next stop on our tour. NEXT PHOTO.


Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.
Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.