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Florida Panthers Are Being Killed In Record Numbers

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This July 2009 handout photo provided by the journal Science shows a three-week old Florida panther kitten in the Picayune Strand State Forest.  In the quest to save the endangered Florida panther, their Texas cousins were the cat's meow. Fifteen years ago, Florida imported some wild panthers from Texas as fresh blood for the dwindling Florida cats. Now scientists have created an astonishingly in-depth family tree of today's Florida panthers, and found the program not only boosted the population
This July 2009 handout photo provided by the journal Science shows a three-week old Florida panther kitten in the Picayune Strand State Forest. In the quest to save the endangered Florida panther, their Texas cousins were the cat's meow. Fifteen years ago, Florida imported some wild panthers from Texas as fresh blood for the dwindling Florida cats. Now scientists have created an astonishingly in-depth family tree of today's Florida panthers, and found the program not only boosted the population

Florida manatees aren't the only native endangered species in trouble in the Sunshine State.

The Florida panther, our official state animal and according to the Florida Fish And Wildlife Commission, "one of the most endangered animals on Earth," is getting wiped out by cars in record-breaking numbers.

So far, 13 panthers have died in 2013 as a result of a vehicle, according to Floridapanthers.net. And with two months left in the year, that figure is expected to rise past last year's record-breaking total of 17, especially with the end of Daylight Savings.

"There's always been concern from some of us when the time change happens because it gets earlier and tends to coincide more with when people are coming and going to work," Nancy Payton with the Florida Wildlife Federation, told News-Press. "There are more cars on the roads. And the days get shorter and shorter."

Researchers do believe the depressing death count does contain some positive news: more roadside collisions mean the state's panther population is on the upswing.

Floridapanthers.net estimates that there are currently between 100 and 160 panthers living in the state.

HOW YOU CAN HELP: The FWC advises when driving in a panther habitat, be alert, decrease your speed, increase the distance between you and other cars, and scan the roadsides for reflective animal eyes.

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