MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Fences will go up in parts of Alligator Alley as part of an effort to curb panther deaths in Florida.READ MORE: Broward Health Ending COVID Shots As Demand Decreases, Availability Increases
The 9-mile long exclusionary fencing will stretch from the FakaUnion Canal Bridge to the Naples toll booth. It’s considered the deadliest highway for Florida Panthers and it’s also the only section of Alligator Alley without fencing.
The move by the Florida Department of Transportation comes after a study was commissioned due to the alarming rate of panther deaths.
Collisions with vehicles are the major cause of panther deaths but once fencing and underpasses are installed, the deaths drop to almost zero.READ MORE: Initiatives Announced To Reduce Pollution In Miami-Dade County
This year 23 Florida panthers have been killed on Florida highways.
As part of the commissioned study, it was recommended fencing go up and for new wildlife underpasses to be built between Miller Canal Bridge and the Naples toll booth.
That’s not the only part of the effort. The transportation department will also create a two-foot wide pathway for wildlife use.
“It is important to maintain habitat connectivity for panthers and other wildlife because Picayune Strand State Forest is on the south side and Collier County’s North Belle Meade Natural Resource Protection Area is on the north side of this currently exposed stretch of Alligator Alley I-75,” said Nancy Payton, Southwest Florida Field Representative who spearheaded Florida Wildlife Federation’s campaign.MORE NEWS: Insurance Regulators Approve Smaller Rate Hikes For Citizens Property Insurance
Florida Panthers have been on the U.S. Endangered Species List since 1967. The only breeding population is estimated to be about 180 animals in South Florida. That’s a stark difference from when they roamed across the entire southeastern United States.