COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. (AP) - Wildlife officials reported 30 Florida panther deaths in 2018, matching the previous year's total.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says 26 of last year's deaths were from vehicle strikes, while only 24 of the big cats were hit by vehicles in 2017. Two of the panthers found dead last year were killed by other panthers, and officials didn't know what killed the other two.
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.
The 2018 and 2017 mortality rates are down from 42 deaths in both 2016 and 2015.
Three panther litters with a total of nine kittens were documented last year.
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