Panther

They stalk quietly, not to avenge
Though, to some humanity, they could justify revenge.
Their interest, instead, lay toward their prey –
A hare, dear, stork – a little mouse grey.
It may stumble upon a reptilian battle
An alligator find could be its death rattle.
But, if removed from a space where it swims,
The panther, instead, will be one who wins.
The rate of dismissal now thankfully slowed
Though many undone by the busiest roads.
A life in Florida can be terrible harsh
When daring to exit the motherland marsh.
As others, their existence carries a sad metric
They lack past generations diverse genetics.

The Florida Panther is a subspecies of puma, cougar, mountain lion – the large cat that haunts the Ozarks and fur trapping young men. Endemic, naturally, to Florida. It’s population has seen a slight rebound from the teen-twenties to the low hundreds. As in, 120 in the wild. It suffers from hunting, habitat loss, and environmental poisonings. Also feline leukemia. And roads. It gets struck quite a bit crossing the road.

It is the only mountain lion in the Eastern United States, though sightings come out every so often in northern states. I had a college friend who swears he saw one crossing the road.

If you find a cougar in the wild, you are supposed to use your coat to look larger than normal to scare it away. Take your chances.