An endangered Florida panther has died after being struck by a vehicle.
It’s the third panther death attributed to fatal collisions, out of four total deaths this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A total of 22 Florida panther deaths were reported in 2020, with 19 killed by vehicles.
The remains of the 2-year-old male panther were found Thursday in Lee County on a rural road near Wild Turkey Strand Preserve, wildlife officials said.
Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.
The FFWC describes the situation on a website explaining its Florida Panther Program.
“Florida panthers are the larger of Florida’s two native cat species (panthers and bobcats). Although most panthers are found south of Lake Okeechobee, they have been documented throughout the peninsula and even into Georgia,” the site explains.
“Female panthers have only been documented in south Florida so that is where all known breeding occurs. Panthers are listed as an Endangered Species under the Endangered Species Act and it is illegal to harm or harass them in any way. There are approximately 120-230 adult panthers in the population.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.