At this point, it's probably optimistic to say there are more than 100 Florida panthers left in the wild. Especially considering as many as 17 of them were killed by drivers last year, according to the Defenders of Wildlife. That eclipses 2007's record of 15.
The 16th dead panther was found December 29 alongside State Road 29 in Collier County. The road borders a protected panther habitat and has seen increased use thanks to the development of nearby Ave Maria -- an under-construction community in Naples that will feature a Catholic university. The development was criticized by environmentalists, who said the land was prime breeding territory for panthers.
A possible 17th vehicle-caused panther death in October is under investigation.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.