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Collier panther death pushes tally nearer to record

Posted at 4:20 AM, Nov 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-17 04:20:35-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — An endangered Florida panther has died after being struck by a vehicle.

It’s the 23rd panther death attributed to fatal collisions, out of 25 total deaths this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The remains of the 4-year-old female panther were found Sunday along a rural road in eastern Collier County, 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.

Sunday's death pushes closer to the 27 total recorded just last year, according to FWC's Panther Pulse website. Their statistics show the current record is 30 deaths, marked twice in the past six years:

2022 to date: 25 deaths
2021: 27 deaths
2020: 22 deaths
2019: 27 deaths
2018: 30 deaths
2017: 30 deaths

Some conservation groups blame rapid growth in the Collier County area is a contributing factor to the high number of panther-versus-vehicle deaths. Recent residential developments have been built at the expense of panther habitat areas, they argue.

The AP contributed to this report.