Once on the brink of extinction, the Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) has reoccupied parts of its extirpated range in southern Florida, USA over the past 20 years, which has largely been attributed to genetic restoration efforts initiated in 1995 to combat inbreeding depression and subsequent deleterious traits. Concurrent to the resurgence, an increase in documented livestock depredation events has heightened concern over human– panther conflicts. We examined 312 stomach content, scat, and feces (large intestine contents) samples collected 1989 to 2014 across the endemic range in southern Florida. We compared frequency of occurrence of prey items in samples by temporal (pre- and post-genetic restoration), geographic (north and south of 26° 10.017′ latitude), and demographic (age and sex) categories. We observed an apparent temporal shift in prey item occurrence in scats, where raccoon (Procyon lotor) occurrence increased while wild hog (Sus scrofa) occurrence decreased, whereas white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) occurrence appeared constant. Post-genetic restoration, we observed a geographic difference in panther prey, where white-tailed deer and raccoons were consumed more commonly in the southern part of the study area (characterized by lower soil quality and higher hydrological fluctuations), while wild hogs were consumed more frequently in the northern part of the study area. Neither sex nor age appeared to affect frequency of prey occurrence. Pets and livestock were not frequently found in the samples we examined. Overall, our results show shifts in panther diets both temporally and geographically; however, no notable changes in frequency of livestock found in panther diets were observed.
Caudill, Gretchen; Onorato, David P.; Cunningham, Mark W.; Caudill, Danny; Leone, Erin H.; Smith, Lisa M.; and Jansen, Deborah
"Temporal Trends in Florida Panther Food Habits,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 13
, Article 13.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol13/iss1/13