FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Wildlife officials are looking to
boost the panther population by establishing new populations
outside the endangered cat's South Florida stronghold.
A federal plan to restore the panther released Thursday calls for reintroducing panthers to other states: Alabama, Arkansas,
Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Meanwhile, the government plans to focus on strengthening the South Florida population.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says the South Florida
population has rebounded from a low of 20 or 30 to about 120 today,
with male panthers often ranging northwest of Lake Okeechobee.
Even though that's the highest number in decades, officials say the population is still too small and too geographically concentrated to ensure the panther's survival.