More panther crossings on the way for Southwest Florida roads

Posted at 6:48 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 18:48:20-04

The sixth panther death by vehicle collision was discovered Tuesday on County Road 846 in Collier County, two miles east of Immokalee. 2016 tied the record number of panthers killed on Florida roads at 42 from the previous year. 

Amber Crooks of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida three of the panthers killed this year were struck by vehicles on State Route 82.

"That particular location is a hotspot for Florida panther mortalities," Crooks said. "We know 846 and State Route 29 are (also) hotspots for panther mortalities."

Crooks said she's encouraged by plans from the Florida Department of Transportation to build more panther crossing structures, like those on State Route 29 that allow wildlife to pass under the road. Two more such underpasses are scheduled to be built on State Route 80, as part of a road widening project. Several more are being planned for State Routes 29 and 82.

Crooks said the panther won't be the only species to benefit from the crossings.

"Once a panther crossing is installed, all sorts of wildlife will come to know and utilize it to avoid having to deal with the roads and the traffic," she said.

The Florida panther is considered to be endangered, with a rough estimate of 200 in the wild.