Florida panther deaths increase from
collisions with vehicles
June 29, 2007
CONTACT: Beth Scott (850) 488-4676, (850) 251-3970 (cell)
The deaths of three Florida panthers from
collisions with vehicles last week brings the total so far this
year to 14, exceeding last year’s record total of 11 for one of
the most endangered large mammals in the United States.
A small population in Florida represents the
only known remaining members of this subspecies that once ranged
throughout the Southeast. Panther numbers have increased from an
estimated 20-30 panthers 20 years ago to an estimated 80-100
Although Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT)
have used a variety of techniques to reduce panther deaths along
highways, the most successful tools have been wildlife crossings
Wildlife crossings along Alligator Alley in
Collier County are dry-ground bridges that allow wildlife to
pass safely beneath the highway. Twenty-four wildlife crossings
and 12 other bridges modified for panther use were constructed
within a 40-mile stretch of I-75 as well as a continuous-barrier
fence directing animals to the crossings.
Seven other wildlife crossings have been
installed in Collier and Lee counties. No panthers have been
killed by vehicles in areas protected with wildlife crossings
and continuous fencing. Panthers have been killed by vehicles
where limited fencing was used.
FWC has been working with the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, FDOT, Collier and Lee county transportation
departments and developers to protect panthers along more
highway segments by incorporating wildlife crossings, fencing
and additional speed zones in appropriate locations:
Two wildlife crossings will be built on the
two-lane road, which will be six-laned to serve Ave Maria
University and associated communities.
Planning is under way to add new lanes to
the two-lane SR 29. More wildlife crossings will be
incorporated into the highway design.
FWC supported a proposal initiated by
Defenders of Wildlife for a wildlife crossing on US 41.
FWC consulted with Lee County Transportation
Department about extending fencing associated with a
FWC is reviewing recent panther deaths
within or in close proximity to the southernmost wildlife
crossing on SR 29. Several panthers have been killed around
this structure as a result of the limited fencing.
FWC is evaluating the need for more
nighttime speed zones in Collier and Hendry counties.
Two wildlife crossings were recently completed
on SR 29 in Collier County, costing approximately $4 million
There have been 139 documented panther deaths
since 1997, 63 of which were previously live-captured and
equipped with radio collars for ongoing research. Two major
known causes of panther deaths are territorial battles among the
cats and vehicle collisions.
FWC researchers are working with scientists at
the University of Florida to create a panther population model
that will help assess panther numbers over time and gauge the
influence of panther losses by vehicle collisions on future