The Defenders of Wildlife has reported that October has been a brutal month for Florida panthers. In fact, three of these critically endangered animals have been struck and killed by motorists in four days, with the most recent fatality being a three-month-old panther kitten on October 9th. The kitten was the 11th panther to be killed by a vehicle this year, and the 19th death overall.
Although these majestic animals once flourished through the southeastern part of the US, there are now only about 100 adult Florida panthers left in the wild, and their fight for survival has become more imperiled by an increase in housing and highway projects which continue to take over their natural habitat, “turning it into a jigsaw puzzle of disconnected pieces, forcing confrontations between humans and panthers,” stated Defenders Florida representative Elizabeth Fleming.
The Florida panther is the last subspecies of Puma still surviving in the eastern United States. In an effort to save them from extinction, Fleming added that Defenders of Wildlife is now working to expand the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to shield the animals from further urban development and help provide a buffer zone between panthers and people.
In addition, the organization is striving for increased enforcement for speeding laws and monitor high-tech wildlife sensors on Tamiami Trail in Big Cypress National Preserve (a stretch of road known for its high number of panther fatalities). These sensors can reduce wildlife- vehicle collisions. In addition, they hope to instigate designation of slower nighttime speed zones and construction of underpasses and fencing, and fight “ill-conceived” new road projects that could increase road deaths.
Those seeking more information about the fight to save the Florida panther, as well as make a donation to their cause can contact Defenders of Wildlife at 1130 17th St., NW, Washington DC 20036 800 385-9712