Tracking the Florida Panther’s Tenuous Comeback

Rachel Love Nuwer in Undark:

The Florida Panther’s unlikely comeback is neatly summarized on the website of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. From around 20 surviving animals in the early 1970s (with the population possibly reaching as few as six), there are now more than 200 and counting. The agency credits this recovery to studious collaboration between federal and state officials, including the introduction of life-saving genetic diversity to the endangered panther population, as well as conservation of vital habitat.

What the official description doesn’t mention, however, is the drama, individual perseverance, and messy, sometimes blundering, realities that enabled the Florida panther to claw its way back from the precipice of extinction. For a full account of this swampy, fraught history, readers can instead turn to award-winning journalist Craig Pittman’s new book, “Cat Tale: The Wild, Weird Battle to Save the Florida Panther.”

More than a natural history monograph, “Cat Tale” is the story of Florida’s complicated relationship with its state animal.

More here.