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Florida Panther On Track For Another Record Year For Fatilities

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via Flickr

More Florida panthers could die this year than last year's record number. Wildlife authorities attribute the mortalities to the endangered animal's growing population.

Wildlife authorities have documented 22 dead panthers so far this year. All but four of the animals died in vehicle collisions. Last year 41 panthers died.Darrell Land of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the state's panther population is estimated at up to 180 animals, compared with a few dozen 30 years ago.

"When the panther numbers had gotten down so low they were no longer occupying a lot of habitat that today they've kind of colonized or repopulated", said Land. "And that's putting them into the same area where the footprint of humans is starting to expand."

Florida Fish and Wildlife says panthers are poised to outgrow their primary habitat in southwest Florida. There landowners have complained of attacks on cattle and other animals.