The Florida panther's natural predator is the American alligator. Humans also threaten it through poaching and wildlife control measures. Besides predation, the biggest threat to their survival is human encroachment. Historical persecution reduced this wide-ranging, large carnivore to a small area of south Florida. This created a tiny, isolated population that became inbred.
The two highest causes of mortality for individual Florida panthers are automobile collisions and territorial aggression between panthers. Primary threats to the population include habitat loss, habitat degradation, and habitat fragmentation. Southern Florida is a fast-developing area and certain developments such as Ave Maria near Naples, are controversial for their location in prime panther habitat. Fragmentation by major roads has severely segmented the sexes of the Florida panther, as well. In a study done between 1981 and 2004, most panthers involved in car collisions were found to be male. However, females are much more reluctant to cross roads. Therefore, roads separate habitat, and adult panthers.
It was formerly considered critically endangered but recovery efforts are underway in Florida to conserve the state's remaining population of native panthers. This is a difficult task, as the panther requires contiguous areas of habitat. Each breeding unit, consisting of one male and two to five females, requires about 200 square miles of habitat.
The Florida Panther is considered to be a conservational flagship because it is a major contributor to the keystone ecological and evolutionary processes in their environment. A population of 240 panthers would require 8,000–12,000 square miles of habitat and sufficient genetic diversity to avoid inbreeding as a result of small population size.