COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The remains of a young Florida panther were found Thursday morning, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed.
The panther’s remains were found slightly north of US Highway 41 in Collier County. The cause of death was determined to be a vehicle collision.
This is the 16th documented panther death in 2021. Eleven of the 16 have been ruled by FWC as vehicle-related. Twenty-two panthers were killed last year.
The only death in the Tampa Bay area documented thus far this year was in Hardee County on March 10.
FWC reported one litter of three panthers in Collier County at the end of January.
On Wednesday, ZooTampa broke ground on an additional exhibit to add space for their animal care teams to help panthers, as well as black bears.
“Aside from manatees, panthers (are) one of our key animals that we want to make sure that we rescue and rehab and release,” ZooTampa CEO and President Joe Couceiero confirmed, saying the zoo is working to educate visitors and inspire others to protect the species.
“It’s going to make a future difference for those bears and panthers that we’re going to rescue. It will allow us an opportunity to rescue them if needed and house them there, potentially,” said Florida Wilds Curator and Manager Molly Lippincott.
FWC explained panthers have been documented throughout the state and even into Georgia. Female panthers have only been documents in South Florida, where FWC said all breeding occurs.
According to FWC, there are only 120 to 230 adult panthers in the population.
Panthers are listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. You can report injured or dead panthers to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC.