COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - It's your money and the county is putting a $1 million panther crossing under Immokalee Road. The money would come from the Department of Transportation, but some question if this is the appropriate time for such an expensive project.
There's only about 120 florida panthers in existence. Automobiles are among the top killers of the endangered animal. Eleven have already been killed this year.
"Wildlife doesn't recognize a highway as something they should or shouldn't cross," said Florida Fish and Wildlife biologist, Mark Lotz.
Transportation officials started installing animal underpasses in the mid 1990's to cut down on the number of fatalities.
Biologists say they're working. FWC officials caught the panthers using an underpass this summer at Corkscrew and Alico Road in Lee County.
Officials put the underpasses where panthers already cross, so its natural for them to use it. But, they also put up fences to guide the panthers underneath. Lotz says the underpasses save human lives too.
"You can imagine hitting a deer or bear or panther," said Lotz.
Now, Collier County is getting ready to build another underpass on Immokalee Road about two miles east of Oil Well Road. Some people tell WINK, now isn't the time to be spending that kind of money.
"It's wasteful," said motorist Kelvin Escalante. "Use the money for something better."
"There's really no jobs and they're gonna spend a million dollars doing something for panthers when there's no jobs here," said driver Ramon Pozo.
The Immokalee Road underpass should be finished by mid 2012.