NAPLES (CBS4) – Two more of Florida’s most endangered cats have been found dead in Collier County.
A 2- to 3-year old male Florida panther was found on Sunday and on Monday, a sheriff’s deputy saw another panther struck and killed by a vehicle.
The animals’ bodies are being transported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s research library in Gainesville.
These are the 14th and 15th panthers killed this year.
Florida panthers have been listed as an endangered species since 1967. An estimated 100 to 200 remain in the state.
The FWC asks drivers to obey posted speed limits and watch for panthers crossing roads at dusk and later.
Panthers tend to be more active during the hours between dusk and dawn, when most automobile strikes occur.
FWC biologists say panthers often make a sudden dash as a car approaches, limiting the ability to avoid an accident, especially when drivers are traveling at higher speeds.
To help protect the large cats from increasing traffic threats, the FWC, along with sheriff’s deputies and the Florida Highway Patrol, actively enforce panther speed zones in Lee and Collier counties. Panther speed zones are well-marked, with speed limits reduced at night to 45 mph.
Collier County has four panther speed zones: two on State Road 29 and two on U.S. 41, including a zone that runs through Collier-Seminole State Park. In Lee County, there are three panther speed zones.
Motorists who violate panther speed zones often receive fines exceeding $200 for their first offense. There is a mandatory court appearance for any violation of more than 29 mph over the posted limit.
For more information on the Florida panther, go to www.floridapanthernet.org. To report dead or injured panthers, call the Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-3922.
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