News Releases

FWC urging motorists to slow down in panther country

News Release

Monday, May 02, 2011

Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459

Four nights. Nine officers. Eighty-four citations resulting in costly fines. Forty-six warnings issued. Hundreds of motorists educated.

These are the significant results of the recent "Save a Panther" detail, conducted by officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's (FWC) Division of Law Enforcement. From April 18-22, FWC officers patrolled and enforced panther speed zones on State Road 29 and U.S. 41 in Collier County. It's worth noting that most of the citations written during the detail were to motorists driving more than 20 mph above the posted speed limit. 

To help protect the large cats from increasing traffic threats, FWC officers and their law enforcement partners regularly patrol panther speed zones. Panther speed zones are well-marked, with speed limits reduced to 45 mph at night.

So far this year, five Florida panthers have met untimely ends on roads and highways in Collier County. On Saturday, the body of what appears to be a young male was recovered on U.S. 41 at Fifty-Mile Bend in Big Cypress National Preserve. The animal was likely struck and killed by a vehicle. A necropsy will confirm the cause of death.

The panther population has grown five-fold since the 1980s, when its numbers had dwindled to 20-30. Its increase to a current estimate of 100-160 adult panthers is a success story, but one tempered with the knowledge that an increasing population means a greater chance for vehicle collisions.

"The increase in panther numbers also means that more panthers are crossing roadways," said Capt. Jayson Horadam, supervisor of the FWC's Collier County law enforcement office. "The vehicle collisions that have occurred to date this year were all outside of panther speed zones. We urge drivers to slow down and watch for panthers on all rural roads in panther country."

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.

To learn more about the Florida panther, visit FloridaPantherNet.org.



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