Vehicles blamed for 17 Florida panther deaths
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- State wildlife officials say vehicle strikes are responsible for most of the 25 Florida panther deaths this year.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say 17 panthers were killed by vehicles. In 2011, nine of 24 panther deaths were attributed to vehicle strikes.
The Florida panther once roamed across the Southeast. Now just 100 to 160 remain. They're found only in South Florida.
Environmentalists blame the panther deaths on shrinking habitat.
The Naples-based Conservancy of Southwest Florida says the death toll is likely to increase unless steps are taken to keep development in check.
The Center for Biological Diversity says the federal government has twice rejected its proposals to establish a second panther population in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge on the Georgia-Florida border.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)