Endangered Florida panther struck and killed by vehicle; 1st panther death of 2021

An endangered Florida panther has died after being struck by a vehicle.

It’s the first panther death reported in the new year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A total of 22 Florida panther deaths were reported in 2020, with 19 killed by vehicles.

The remains of the 3-year-old female panther were found Saturday in Lee County on a divided highway that leads to the Southwest Florida International Airport, wildlife officials said.

Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.