One of the most elusive large mammals in the U.S., the Florida panther lives in the swamps and forests of southwestern Florida. Breeding pairs of these big cats require 200 square miles of habitat to roam and hunt. However, the panthers have lost roughly 95% of their historic habitat, and their current range is now squeezed into a few protected areas such as Big Cypress National Preserve and Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, as well as some private lands. Scientists estimate that only 80-100 of these critically endangered animals remain on earth.
Global warming is compounding the many problems Florida panthers already face. Much of their low-lying habitat could be flooded and destroyed by salt water if sea levels continue to rise. Not only is the panther literally running out of space given how much of their historic habitat has already been lost to development, but further flooding would also hurt the white-tailed deer population, a critical source of food for this rare cat.
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