New 'Protect the Panther' Florida License Plate Now Available


A brand new version of Florida's classic 'Protect the Panther' license plate is now available for purchase. Like in previous years of its release, proceeds from the plate's fee go toward conservation of the Florida panther, one of Florida's most well known and most endangered species of mammals.

The original Protect the Panther plate was debuted in 1991, with this newest iteration being the third design to appear so far. It shows a photograph taken in 2018 by Carlton Ward of a mother and kitten panther.

The old (top) and new (bottom) Protect the Panther Florida license plates.
The old (top) and new (bottom) Protect the Panther Florida license plates.

The fee to purchase the plate is $25 annually with tag registration. According to the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission, the funds help "to manage this significant wildlife resource for its long-term well-being and the benefit of people". As of now, the Florida panther is thought to consist of a little over 200 individuals, up from 20 in the 70's but down drastically from its original numbers.

The primary threats to the Florida panther are habitat loss, inbreeding from lack of genetic diversity, and motor vehicle collisions. Efforts to help promote conservation have included the designation of the panthers as Florida's state animal in 1982.

In addition to purchasing the Protect the Panther plate, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission also encourages motorists to pay close attention to speed limits in areas where Florida panthers are known to exist, helping prevent one of the most frequent causes of their demise. Florida panthers are most commonly sighted in South Florida, but individual males have been sighted as far north as mid-Georgia. Their presence has been described in Flagler and Volusia counties, though the likelihood of spotting one so far north is exceedingly rare.