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Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Collier County
florida panther nwr
florida panther nwr
florida panther nwr
florida panther nwr

State Road 29


The closest thing to a Florida panther we saw at Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge was a catbird, which, as you might imagine, isn't close at all. But it's not surprising, either. There aren't all that many panthers left any more, even in the refuge, and an adult male panther has a territory of about 200 square miles, so the odds of spotting one are long. On top of that, they are nocturnal animals, most active when the refuge is closed to us humans.

As disappointing as that might be, Florida Panther remains a worthwhile stop for the other things it offer. It's easy to get to — the entrance is on State Road 29, a quarter mile or less north of I-75. There's plenty of parking, an informational kiosk, a portable toilet and two hiking trails, one short hard-surfaced, the other a little over a mile and on the primitive side. It can be wet.

Habitat ranges from dense hardwood forest to open prairie. Wildflowers are abundant in open areas and birds can be heard and seen along the trails. It's a quick stop: the trails can be covered easily in an hour or two. Despite the long odds against encountering a panther, the possibility still should be taken seriously and you should have some idea of what to do if you cross paths with one. The refuge recommends hiking with a partner; there are also pamphlets, A Guide to Living With Florida Panthers, on site.

More Resources for Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
Institute for Regional Conservation Friends of Florida Panther NWR    
Photo Gallery for Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
showy milkwort false foxglove yello aster violet aster
air plant aster bright yellow flower airplant
unknown flower petunia like flower beautyberry lobelia
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.