FWC urging motorists to slow down in panther country
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
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
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
To learn more about the Florida panther, visit FloridaPantherNet.org.