Sadly, it seems the only way you can catch a glimpse of an endangered and beautiful Florida panther is by spotting a dead one on the road. Unfortunately, two panthers were found dead in the span of a couple of days.
On Friday, a hiker walking through the Picayune Strand State Forest spotted the carcass of a panther. While the cause of death is still unknown, it marked the 11th dead panther found in Florida this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Then, on Monday, another dead panther was reported just north of Lake Placid in Highlands County. This one was reportedly run over by a vehicle, which is the most common cause of death for Florida panthers.
That brings us to four dead panthers in a little over two weeks and 12 overall for the year.
Just a couple of weeks ago, wildlife officials found a dead panther in the Big Cypress National Preserve that was likely killed by another panther, raising concerns about the overall health of their population.
The latest reports estimate 160 panthers living in Florida. And in 2012, wildlife officials brought over pumas from Texas to breed with Florida panthers to help rejuvenate the overall population.
But the panther that was killed by another panther was likely the victim of territorial aggression, which isn't rare in the wild. But with the panthers having to live in confined areas, we could see these acts of aggression on the rise.
The confined spaces also sometimes force panthers to wander off their wildlife reserves onto the road, where they're more likely to be killed. An average of 17 panthers are killed by vehicles every year, according to the Florida Sierra Club.
Second: interspecies aggression.
Already there's a Change.org petition asking Gov. Rick Scott to curb urban development and to set up corridors for panthers that divert them away from roads and highways.
Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.
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