FWC cites 39 drivers in Florida panther protection operation

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Florida Panther
Florida panther (Credit: CBS News)

In an effort to protect the endangered Florida panther from becoming roadkill, authorities conducted an organized two-night operation, leading to officers issuing 39 violations.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Officer Specialist Christopher Guy organized the operation on Corkscrew Road to see if people were obeying the nightly reduced speed limits.

injured florida panther
An injured Florida panther. CREDIT: WINK News

Vehicle strikes are the main reported cause of death for endangered Florida panthers, according to FWC’s Panther Pulse.

During the crackdown, authorities stopped 39 vehicles. Every violator was driving at least 20 mph above the 45 mph limit.

After explaining to the drivers why the speed limits were reduced along that road, they were properly cited.

So far in 2024, four Florida panthers have been victims of vehicle strikes, and one died after getting struck by a train.

In 2023, all 13 reported Florida panther deaths were the result of vehicle strikes.

Twenty-five of the 27 reported panther deaths were from vehicle strikes in 2022. The other two were from unknown causes.

According to Panther Crossing, while driving through an area with panther crossing signs, the speed limit is reduced from 60 mph to 45 mph. Tickets given to violators can cost more than $200.

“At least 239 panthers were killed on Florida roads in the last 10 years,” the Panther Crossing website says.

Florida panthers

Panther Crossing offers a few safety tips for drivers to avoid hitting wildlife.

  • Watch for an animal’s eyeshine at night.
  • Use caution if road reflectors “disappear” as this means an animal may be in front of them. Scan the road and shoulder ahead.
  • If you see a panther cross the road ahead of you, slow down, there could be others.

FWC Officers Jadon Stapleton, Christopher Hurst, Joshua Kampmann and Cory Perez along with Lt. David Barrett stopped the violators during the operation along Corkscrew Road.

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