The Florida panther, a small subspecies of the cougar that inhabits southwest Florida, has grown in population from a mere 20 cats in the 1970s to 100 panthers currently.
However, the US Fish and Wildlife Service will only deem their conservation plan successful when three colonies of 240 panthers thrive. In the current space of 3500 square miles, this may not be possible. Scientists believe the area has reached maximum capacity for the large felines.
So far, possible plans to establish cougar colonies in Arkansas, Georgia, and northern Florida have not come to fruition. In the meantime, human population and development has increased significantly in southwest Florida in past years, decreasing the possiblity of expanding the panther population there.
For more information about the Florida panther space issue, see St. Petersburg Times: “Florida’s panthers thriving, but running out of room”