May 23, 2024 - News

Florida panther deaths up from 2023, mostly due to cars

A healthy Florida panther is seen on display at the Palm Beach Zoo

A Florida panther is seen at the Palm Beach Zoo in 2019. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More endangered Florida panthers have already died this year than in all of 2023, with the majority killed by cars, according to a CBS News report based on state data.

Why it matters: There are only between 120 and 230 adult panthers left in the state, the outlet reported. Florida's growing population and booming development is further encroaching on their already limited habitat.

  • "[The panthers] have been kind of cornered into this little area of Southwest Florida, and that's where we see the majority of these roadkills," Elise Bennett, the Florida and Caribbean director at the Center for Biological Diversity, told CBS.

By the numbers: So far this year, 14 panthers have been killed, with 11 deaths caused by vehicles and another by a train.

Yes, but: Experts say the overall number remains low compared to previous years.

  • Both 2021 and 2022 saw 27 panthers die, the outlet reported.
  • In 2020, 22 panthers died.

What's next: There's a "long way to go" to remove the panther from the endangered list, but conservation efforts continue.

  • The Florida Wildlife Corridor, which aims to protect key areas of habitat, is working to ensure the animal has "a way to move north and go back into their former range" of north Florida and Georgia without significant risk, Bennett told CBS.
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