The Florida Panther just got a thumbs up from the Florida Dept. of Transportation which will construct an 18 mile long 10 ft. high fence to prevent these endangered animals from crossing parts of I-75 otherwise known as Alligator Alley which stretches from the east to west coasts of Florida. The purpose of the fence will be to lessen the chances that Panthers will get hit by automobiles. 23 of these animals have been killed already this year which is close to the record of 25 killed in any one year. The Florida Panther which once roamed for hundreds of miles throughout the state has been hemmed in by the rapid loss of its habitat by human developments of cities, farms, irrigation canals and other man made structures. The new fence will be built near the toll booth on the interstate in Naples. The fence will also have openings or cross ways under the interstate where the Panthers will be able to pass through and under the roadway without the danger of being hit by cars and trucks.
The push for the additional fence was made by the Florida Wildlife Federation to the DOT and the state finally agreed to spend the $5.4 million dollars to help protect this animal. It is estimated that there are only 180 Panthers left in Florida.
The Florida Panther is a carnivore and its’ diet consists of white tailed deer, feral hogs, raccoons, small mammals and reptiles. They generally need at least 200 sq. miles to roam and hunt for food. They will mate in the winter season and females will produce liters of between 1-3 kittens. The kittens are especially vulnerable to other predators because they are born blind. They have dark spots when born to provide camouflage in the wild. They will eventually gain their eyesight and stay with their mother for 1 ½ years until they venture out on their own. The National Wildlife Federation has some additional information about Florida Panthers. Some information for this post came from an article that was published in the Ft. Myers News Press on Sunday Nov. 8th. 2015, called “Study to extend Collier Panther Fencing”. The Photo shown above is courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.