As you start your traditional Thanksgiving eve binge-drinking fest this evening, take a second and pour out some of that delicious boxed wine for all the endangered Florida panthers that have died this year.
As documented by New Times, 2012 has been brutal on the big cats. And things took a serious turn for the worse this week, when officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reported two more panther deaths.
-Urban Sprawl Kills Endangered Panthers
-Sixteenth Dead Panther of 2012
For readers keeping track, there have now been 23 panther mortalities recorded this year. Fifteen of them have been caused by cars, including both of the deaths reported this week. Most of the remaining deaths are due to cat-on-cat aggression, a natural phenomenon that some argue is exacerbated by urban sprawl and thus still linked, albeit indirectly, to cars.
Those are horrific numbers given that some estimates put the total wild panther population in state at about 100 cats. More generous estimates say there are upward of 160 cats out there.
The first death reported this week involved a male panther estimated to be 3 years old. Officials found its remains in Collier County, several miles north of Oil Well Road.
The second death involved another male panther, this one estimated to be 4 to 5 years old. The remains were found west of Manatee Road in Collier County.
Since 2000, the highest number of cats to die in a single year is 25. The most killed by cars in a single year is 17. With roughly six weeks left in 2012, we're crossing our fingers in hopes that we don't set any records.