Over the holiday weekend, a 6-month-old Florida panther was killed by a motor vehicle in Collier County. This is the 20th Florida panther to be killed by a vehicle this year, a record-high since 2012.
The young male panther was found on Golden Gate Boulevard, an area of frequent sighting of the endangered animal. The collision occurred at night.
The reason for the high number of incidents this year is likely because the Florida panther population is increasing. The state has already begun taking steps to reduce the number of accidents by installing wildlife underpasses on roads where these accidents commonly occur.
Currently there are between 100 and 180 panthers in Florida which is nearly six times higher than there were in the 1970s. However, if the animals stop reproducing as successfully as they have over the past few decades, the numbers could begin to drop again due to these types of accidents.
Florida drivers should be aware that the panthers typically inhabit the forests of south Everglades National Park, the swamps and pine lands of southwest Florida and the farm areas west of Lake Okeechobee. Recognizing where these animals reside can help drivers me more aware of when to slow down for a potential panther crossing.
The Florida panther was placed on the U.S. Endangered Species list in 1973 and was considered critically endangered until 2008. Gordon & Doner urges drivers to watch for these animals when driving near forests and swamps in southern Florida.