3 Florida panthers die in early 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
Florida panther photos on Flickr: http://ow.ly/8re6w
Florida panthers are off to a rough start in 2012, with three
deaths documented by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC). Last year, 24 Florida panther deaths were
recorded, but FWC biologists also observed 11 radio-collared
females giving birth to 32 panther kittens. Overall, the known
number of newborn panthers in 2011 appears to have offset the known
number of panther deaths.
Today, an estimated 100 to 160 adults of this federally
endangered species live in Florida. Panthers almost disappeared
from the wild in this state when their numbers fell to fewer than
30 in the 1970s. Since then, their population has been
Collisions with vehicles continues to be the greatest source of
human-caused mortality to this long-tailed cat that can weigh up to
160 pounds and grow to 6 feet or longer.
Already, in just the first week of 2012, there were two
documented deaths of panthers hit by vehicles on highways in
Collier County, where the greatest concentration of panthers in the
state is found. The third fatality was caused by a fight with
another panther. Among the 24 documented panther deaths in 2011,
nine deaths, or more than a third, were due to collisions with
"Florida panther deaths are most often the result of one of two
things: collisions with vehicles or aggression from other
panthers," said Kipp Frohlich, head of the Imperiled Species
Management Section at the FWC. "We can't control panthers fighting
when they are defending their territory; that is a part of nature.
But we can do something about human-caused panther
"People who slow down and drive carefully in rural areas,
especially where panther crossings are identified, can make a
difference in conservation of this endangered species. It is
especially important to slow down and keep a careful lookout at
dawn or dusk, when panthers are most likely to be on the move,"
The FWC continues to work with many partners to conserve and
increase habitat available to panthers on both public and private
lands. This is a critical step to ensuring the survival of
panthers, the official state animal of Florida.
People are encouraged to report sightings of an injured or dead
panther by calling the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC
(3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone. Another option is texting
Tip@MyFWC.com (standard usage
fees may apply).
For more information on Florida panthers, go to www.floridapanthernet.org.