Panther-death numbers little changed in 2010
Monday, January 10, 2011
Media contact: Gabriella Ferraro, 772-215-9459 (mortality); Patricia Behnke, 850-251-2130 (population)
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) documented 23 panther deaths in 2010. Of those
mortalities, 16 panthers died after being struck by vehicles. Six
of the panther deaths are attributed to "intraspecific aggression,"
or panthers killing other panthers. One panther died of unknown
This is very similar to 2009, when the FWC
documented 25 deaths, with 17 of those killed by vehicles. The
five-year average is approximately 23 panthers per year, with an
average of almost 14 killed each year by vehicles.
"Motorists should be aware that panthers are not
always struck in posted panther speed zones," said Darrell Land,
FWC biologist and panther team leader. "We caution motorists to be
on the lookout for the large cats in wild areas near panther zones,
especially around sundown and sunrise."
Panther speed zones are well-marked, with speed
limits reduced at night to 45 mph. Motorists should be aware that
violators often receive fines exceeding $200 for their first
offense, and any violation of more than 29 mph over the posted
limit will result in a mandatory court appearance.
"The FWC continues to work closely with the Florida
Department of Transportation to develop measures that will increase
motorist and panther safety along Florida's roads," Land said.
Land also said the panther population has been
slowly increasing in Florida, which results in the documentation of
more dead panthers. Land also noted the female panthers that were
radio-tagged during 2010 produced 29 kittens. The total number of
kittens born for the entire population is unknown.
Florida panthers have been listed federally as an
endangered species since 1967 because of the small, isolated
population and habitat loss. Recently the FWC completed a
"Statement on Estimating Panther Population Size," which notes
there are likely between 100 and 160 adult panthers in South
"This number comes from combining several
science-based methods to provide a lower and upper bound of the
population," said Kipp Frohlich, the FWC's Imperiled Species
Section leader. "This should be thought of as a theoretical
range that provides some insight into the possible magnitude of the
total population size. We are continually seeking improved methods
for determining the most accurate estimates."
Panther research and management funding comes
directly from the additional fees collected when individuals
purchase the "Protect the Florida panther" specialty license plate.
Money also goes to law enforcement to increase patrols in the areas
where panthers reside in South Florida.
Panther specialty license plates are available at
local tax collectors' offices across the state. For more information, go to FloridaPantherNet.org
and click on "Panther Pulse." To report dead or injured panthers,
call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).