Florida panther deaths still at record high for 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- A record number of endangered Florida panthers died again last year - 42 of the remaining big cats were killed, matching the 2015 record. Thirty-four were hit by vehicles in southwest Florida, where development is shrinking what’s left of their habitat.

The tally kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes six new litters, with a total of 14 cubs born in 2016. But the state estimates that only 100 to 180 of the big cats remain in the wild.

Critics say government officials have failed to implement “coherent efforts” to save the Florida panthers. In a statement Wednesday, Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said he doesn’t expect their plight to improve under President-elect Donald Trump.