By staff report
Originally published 05:06 p.m., March 13, 2009
Updated 05:06 p.m., March 13, 2009
Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has issued a proclamation that March 21 be Save the Florida Panther Day.
"It is proper and fitting for all Floridians to pause and reflect on the plight of the Florida panther and the task of preserving this rare component of Florida’s diverse natural resources as a legacy to generations of Floridians yet to come," Crist wrote in the proclamation.
The Florida panther is the state's official animal. It once ranged across the southeastern United States, but now is confined to South Florida. About 100 Florida panthers remain in the wild, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The cats' numbers have risen slightly in the past two decades, largely as a result of better habitat and genetic management and additional public land purchases.
Florida funds part of the panther research and protection effort through the sale of Florida panther specialty license plates. Eighty-five percent of the money collected from those sales is deposited in the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund to help fund the species’ recovery from the threat of extinction.
To view the governor’s proclamation or to learn more about Florida panthers visit PantherNet at MyFWC.com/panther
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org