* By ERIC STAATS * Posted March 15, 2010 at 11:09 a.m.
A dead Florida panther was found over the weekend along Corkscrew Road at at a Corkscrew Marsh trailhead in Collier County.
The uncollared female, about 68 pounds and about 3 years old, appeared to have been struck by a vehicle, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Staff at the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed called in the discovery Saturday morning but, judging from the stiffness of the carcass and the lack of tracks leading to the carcass after Friday’s heavy rains, the Conservation Commission said the panther appeared to have been killed Thursday night.
The panther death is the first roadkill of 2010, but the second panther death overall.
A male panther, between 2 and 3 years old, was found west of CREW, about a mile south of Corkscrew Road in Lee County, in January. The Conservation Commission said it appeared that cat had been killed in a fight with another panther.
Last year, 17 panthers were confirmed struck and killed and by vehicles, setting a grisly record for the endangered wildcats and state symbol. Scientists say between 100 and 120 panther are left in the wild in South Florida.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org