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2 Florida Panthers Killed by Vehicles in 2 Days
The Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission reported two Florida panther deaths in the past two days.
The panthers were both struck by vehicles, bringing the total number of panther road kills in 2010 to 15.
In 2009, 17 panthers were killed on Florida roadways–the highest number ever recorded.
With less than 100 panthers left in the wild, the deaths are a big blow to the endangered cat’s population.
The deaths both occurred in Collier County, Florida. Officials say a 2- to 3-year-old male was found Sunday on U.S. 27, and a 1 1/2-year-old male was recovered on Golden Gate Boulevard.
A Fort Meyers News-Press article noted that, “An 8-month-old female kitten was killed at [the second] location in May. Officials say it is possible that the panther killed this morning was a sibling of the kitten killed in May, and belonged to the family group that frequents this part of the Estates.”
Florida Panther Protection Program Aims to Reduce Fragmentation
Florida panthers are endangered due much in part to habitat loss and fragmentation. Adult male panthers depend upon a territory of about 200-250 square miles. This is becoming harder and harder to come by in South Florida.
To help protect and connect more habitat, National Wildlife Federation’s state affiliate, Florida Wildlife Federation, is working with a coalition of conservation groups and small and large farmers and ranchers in Eastern Collier County on the Florida Panther Protection Program.
The goal of this program is “the protection of a significant, contiguous range of panther habitat – potentially as much as 2,500,000 acres in public and private lands.” In addition, it calls for the establishment of the Paul J. Marinelli Panther Protection Fund, a source of private funds from well planned, sustainable real estate development in Eastern Collier County that could make significant funding available for conservation efforts over decades to come.