Florida motorists now have the option to choose the Protect the Panther license plate — a new design featuring the first female panther documented north of the Caloosahatchee River since 1973, along with her kitten.
The photograph was taken in 2018 by Florida wildlife photographer Carlton Ward Jr.
The new plate can be purchased through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (https://www.flhsmv.gov/) or by checking with your local tax collector’s office for availability.
Staff with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) worked with Ward and the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida to design the new plate.
Florida panthers are native to the state, with the majority of panthers found south of Lake Okeechobee. The animal is listed as an Endangered Species under the federal Endangered Species Act. There are approximately 120 to 230 adult panthers in the population.
Fees from the Protect the Panther plate will go directly into the Florida Panther Research and Management Trust Fund, which is a critical source of funding for the state’s panther-related research, monitoring and conservation efforts, according to an FWC news release.
Purchasing the new license plate isn’t the only way motorists can help panthers — drivers also can follow posted speed limits, particularly in panther zones, which are in place in several counties across south Florida to coincide with areas where panthers are known to cross.
To learn more about Florida panthers and the FWC’s work to conserve the species, visit MyFWC.com/Panther.
Published January 03, 2024