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Florida Panther Road Deaths Reach All-Time High

Monica R.
Creative Commons
Credit Monica R. / Creative Commons
Creative Commons

There are several weeks left in this year and Florida has already tied its all-time record of panthers killed by cars. Nineteen endangered Florida panthers have died after being struck by vehicles this year.

That’s out of 26 total deaths so far.

Darrell Land, a panther specialist with Florida Fish and Wildlife, said there are a lot reasons for this.

He said the biggest reason is that there are just more panthers now.

“If you have more panthers, certainly you will have more dead panthers that you encounter,” Land explained. “But, conversely, there is also going to be a lot more panther reproduction occurring as the numbers increase.”

Land said the species, which almost went extinct several years ago, still isn’t out of the woods.

Their population is rebounding but they haven’t met federal benchmarks.

Land said if populations start to move north-- away from developed parts of Southwest Florida-- they should do better.

He said the state also needs to have more than one panther population.

“We need a substantial enough population that it will be resistant to going to extinction,” he said.

But others are less optimistic. People living around panther habitats say the population is getting too large.

A big complaint has been that the panthers are increasingly preying on animals on ranches.

During a meeting with federal and state officials, local ranchers and hunters asked for a second look at the current population benchmarks.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Ashley Lopez is a reporter forWGCUNews. A native of Miami, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a journalism degree.
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