It’s Threatening To Be a Record Year for Panther Road-Kills in Florida – 19 Animals Killed on Roads So Far

Toby Hazlewood

The endangered species at risk through traffic

Florida's Panthers are a protected species, but it doesn't prevent a significant number of the big cats from being killed each year - 19 of the animals have been killed on Florida's roads already this year. Data collated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, reported on November 1 suggests that being killed on a road accounts for 76% of panther deaths in the state this year.

In the last 5 years, between 22 and 27 of the big cats have been killed each year - with 25 so far having died this year, there seems a very good chance of a record number of deaths in 2021. Particularly concerning is that many of the specimens hit by vehicles this year were younger than 3-years-old. Most panthers don't begin breeding until after the age of 3, which could hinder the population further.

The silver lining is that at least the numbers are some way beneath 2016, when 34 panthers were killed on Florida's roads alone.

A rare and majestic animal

Given that panthers are extremely rare and endangered, it is unusual to encounter them in the wild. But at the height of COVID-19 when roads were quieter and people were confined to their homes under lockdowns, many wild animals became a little more bold, exploring their surroundings.

A group of four of the creatures was caught on camera by a Miami beach man in the Everglades:

Roadkills are a common occurrence

A 2013 study by Scientific American estimated that between 1 million and 2 million animals were killed on America's roads each year - the equivalent of a kill every 26 seconds. The number of incidents in Florida is relatively high amongst other states. Given its proliferation of wildlife including bears and deer, and also species that spend their time in the water (including turtles and even alligators), the number of animal deaths (and human injuries) can be significant.

A 2020 study estimated that between 120 and 230 panthers live in the wild in Florida, which makes it all the more important that the number of road deaths is kept to a minimum or the species will likely be wiped out within a few years.

Those who fear about the preservation of Florida's wildlife will of course be hoping there are no further panthers lost on the state's roads in the remainder of this year (or beyond).

Have you seen a Florida panther in the wild? Let me know in the comments section below.

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