|Driver on Alico Road responsible for another panther death
By VALLI FINNEY (Contact)
NAPLES — An endangered male Florida panther was killed by a vehicle Wednesday evening on Alico Road in south Lee County. The panther's carcass was near Devore Lane in the eastbound lanes of Alico Road.
It weighed between 145 and 150 pounds and was believed to be four to five years old, Gary Morse, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said.
Information was not available on whether the animal was collared or if it had a microchip, Morse said.
"The majority of panthers are not collared," he said. "A lot of kittens have had chips put in them."
Whether this is one of the chipped animals was not immediately known, but FWC has been chipping the animals for a number of years.
Three panthers died in September, bringing the total number of deaths to at least 16 for 2008, according to FWC online records. At least seven have died from collisions with vehicle, two from fights with other panthers and seven from other or unknown causes. Online information was not available for October and November.
Panthers can live 12 years or more in the wild and only about 70 adult cats remain in the wild.
Vehicle collisions are not uncommon and humans can lessen the risk of one by watching for the cats and obeying the panther speed zones throughout Southwest Florida, Morse said.
"People need to be very careful in regard to panthers and highways," he said. "Not only is it bad for panthers (a collision) but it could cause serious problems for drivers, too."
FWC and other law enforcement agencies regularly patrol panthers zones and drivers caught speeding through the zones can be issued a hefty ticket.
For information about panthers, go to http://www.panther.state.fl.us/.
E-mail Valli Finney at email@example.com.
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://bigcatrescue.org