12 endangered Florida panther deaths in 5 months, latest on Alligator Alley

Writer: Paul Dolan
Published: Updated:
Florida panther
Male panther at the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by FWS, 2018.

Another endangered Florida panther has been found dead, marking 12 deaths for the state animal of Florida since November.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission‘s Panther Pulse, a 4-year-old uncollared female panther died from a vehicle strike near mile-marker 50 along Alligator Alley, Thursday.

“As the Florida panther population increases, the number of panthers killed by collisions with vehicles also has increased,” says the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s website. “Prior to the year 2000, yearly panther roadkills were four or fewer, but beginning in 2000, these numbers have ranged from six to 34 annually.”

Florida panther
Vehicle strike statistics for Florida panthers. CREDIT: FWC

Wildlife officials discovered the endangered panther’s corpse inside Collier County, near the Broward County line on Thursday.

Between Jan. 9 and Feb. 1, authorities reported five deaths. These last two deaths happened within two weeks of each other. Add on top of that the five deaths in Nov. 2023, which was the deadliest month for the endangered species.

That total is nearly the same number of deaths over the last five months that happened in all of 2023.

The last panther death discovered on Alligator Alley was in 2022. That year, two female panthers were struck by vehicles. The first happened on July 21, and the second death was found on Jan. 31.

Authorities say the best way to improve safety for the species on the road is by adding Wildlife crossings. However, adding those crossings is expensive.

“The planning for these crossings began with the 1972 Environmental Impact Statement for creating I-75 between Naples and Fort Lauderdale,” says the FWC’s website. “Twenty-four wildlife crossings and 12 other bridges modified for panther use were completed in the early 1990s within a 40-mile stretch of I-75.”

Authorities have put a lot of work in over the years and have since built more than 60 crossings. While expensive, wildlife crossings are clearly effective. Authorities say panther deaths are considerably lower in areas with crossings.

Florida panther
Panthers out in wild. CREDIT: WINK News.

“Panther deaths caused by vehicle collisions have been sharply reduced in areas where crossings and fencing are in place,” says the FWC’s website.

Authorities say approximately only 200 wild adults are left in Florida, and you can’t find them anywhere else on the planet.

Since reported deaths are vastly due to vehicle strikes, it’s important to always be vigilant on the road so the state animal of Florida can flourish for a long time to come.

Click here to learn more ways to keep roads safe for the endangered Florida panther.

Click here to learn about the species from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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