FWC asking motorists to slow down for panthers
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Media contact: Carli Segelson, 772-215-9459
This holiday season, many people will be traveling throughout Florida to visit with friends and family. During this time, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is urging motorists to be extra vigilant when traveling through panther country.
The major human-related cause of panther deaths is vehicles striking these large cats. FWC biologists attribute 15 of the 23 documented panther deaths in 2012 to collisions with vehicles. Three of these vehicle-related panther deaths occurred in the past two weeks. In 2011, nine of 24 documented deaths of Florida panthers were attributed to vehicle collisions.
By slowing down when you are driving along rural highways, especially where panther crossings are identified, you can help the Florida panther.
“People who slow down and drive carefully through panther habitat can make a difference in the conservation of this endangered species,” said Darrell Land, Panther Team Leader for the FWC. “It is especially important to slow down and keep a careful lookout at dawn or dusk, when panthers are most likely to be on the move.”
The panther population has grown five-fold since the 1980s, when its numbers had dwindled to 20-30. Its increase to a current estimate of 100-160 adult and subadult panthers is a success story, but one tempered with the knowledge that an increasing population means a greater chance for vehicle collisions.
“Unfortunately the increase in the number of panthers also means an increase in the number of panthers struck by vehicles each year.” said Land. “However people can help us protect these rare and endangered cats by slowing down and keeping a watchful eye out.”
People can assist the FWC by reporting sightings of an injured or dead panther by calling the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone. Another option is texting Tip@MyFWC.com (standard usage fees may apply).
For more information on Florida panthers, go to www.floridapanthernet.org.