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First Panther Death Of 2014 Reported

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A 2-year-old Florida panther is released into the wild by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on April 3, 2013 in West Palm Beach, Florida.  The panther and its sister had been raised at the White Oak Conservation Center since they were 5 months old. The FWC rescued the two panthers as kittens in September 2011 in northern Collier County after their mother was found dead. The panther is healthy and has grown to a size that should prepare him for life in the wild.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A 2-year-old Florida panther is released into the wild by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) on April 3, 2013 in West Palm Beach, Florida. The panther and its sister had been raised at the White Oak Conservation Center since they were 5 months old. The FWC rescued the two panthers as kittens in September 2011 in northern Collier County after their mother was found dead. The panther is healthy and has grown to a size that should prepare him for life in the wild. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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NAPLES (CBSMiami/AP) – Just two days into the New Year, wildlife officials are reporting the first death of an endangered Florida panther.

The panther, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says the panther was killed in a three-car crash in Naples.

The panther, killed Thursday along Interstate 75 in Collier County, was a young male up to 120 pounds, said Darrell Land of FWC.

Minor injuries, according to Florida Highway Patrol, were reported in the crash that killed the cat.

Wildlife officials say collisions with vehicles pose a significant threat to the rare cats. Roughly 100 to 160 adult panthers remain in the wild.

Thursday’s accident is the first recorded panther death of 2014. Land says 20 panther deaths were recorded last year. Most of the panther deaths recorded in recent years are caused by collisions with vehicles.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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