The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission has reported three Florida panther deaths already this year. Two were hit by vehicles and the third fatality was caused by a fight with another panther. Last year 24 panther deaths were recorded, but FWC biologists also observed 11 radio-collared females giving birth to 32 panther kittens. Overall, the known number of newborn panthers in 2011 appears to have offset the known number of panther deaths. Today, an estimated 100 to 160 adults of this federally endangered species live in Florida.
Panthers almost disappeared from the wild in this state when their numbers fell to fewer than 30 in the 1970s. Collisions with vehicles continue to be the greatest source of human-caused mortality to the panther. The FWC officials say they will continue to work with many partners to conserve and increase habitat available to panthers on both public and private lands to try and ensure the survival of Florida’s official state animal.
People are encouraged to report sightings of an injured or dead panther by calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.