The Florida panther is the state's rarest animal. But it's destined for extinction unless we do everything possible to save it - however desperate.
Those arguments would be more persuasive if there were a couple of hundred panthers left. But there aren't and we can't wait. There are 50 left at the most, though their population might be closer to 30. Once they ranged throughout the Southeast United States, but development and hunting have pushed the last of the breed into wilderness South Florida.
Florida saw its last plains bison in 1800, its last Carolina parakeet in 1904 and its last passenger pigeon in 1907. We also lost the Florida black wolf (1908), Florida red wolf (1921), Caribbean monk seal (1922), Chadwick beach cotton mouse (1938), pallid beach mouse (1946), Goff's pocket gopher (1955), Eskimo curlew (1968) and the ivory-billed woodpecker (1969).