Wildlife expert: Wildlife crossings needed to protect Florida panther

Published: April 13, 2022 6:36 PM EDT
Updated: April 13, 2022 6:39 PM EDT

Panther deaths are climbing this year.

A tenth panther died recently, all on Southwest Florida roads.

The latest panther dead occurred in Glades County.

It was a 4-year-old of breeding age making it particularly sad for those who want to see a resurgence in the panther popultion.

But there’s hope.

Meredith Budd, a wildlife expert, said if more wildlife crossings are built, fewer panthers will die.

“It’s just such a shame to know the potential and the loss of that potential,” said Budd, who is with the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Budd is at a Florida Wildlife Corridor conference this week talking about how to make sure wildlife have safe passage through the state.

Budd said it was devastating to hear about the tenth panther death.

It makes her even more steadfast in the belief that as more people come to Florida, there need to be more wildlife crossings.

“When you implement a crossing, and you put in the fencing that helps guide wildlife to the area that needs to go to cross where they need to cross, we see a reduction in wildlife mortality at that road segment. So these are proven, effective measures that can be done,” Budd said.

Those living in Golden Gate Estates want something done.

“We are invading their habitat in a sense,” said Joseph Bienaime.

Bienaime wants creatures like the Florida panther to be around for his young son Nicolai to enjoy.

“The ecosystem, we need pretty much animals like that for our world,” Bienaime said.

Ernie Kerskie said there is a simple solution.

For him, the key is safe driving.