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Endangered panther killed by train in South Florida, marking 5th such fatality this year

Near-extinct Florida species makes comeback
Florida panther on the brink of extinction makes a comeback 05:43

An endangered Florida panther was hit and killed by a freight train in the state's southern region, officials said. 

The panther was a 2-and-a-half-year-old male, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said in the news release announcing the animal's death. The remains were found on a railroad trestle in Glades County, Florida on Feb. 1. 

The train is believed to be a freight train, the commission said. No other information about the train or the animal's death was available. 

The commission said that vehicle collisions are the primary cause of death for Florida panthers, but this is only the second documented time that a train has been responsible for a panther's death, according to the Miami Herald. Four other Florida panthers have died this year, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission. 

Florida Panther
A Florida panther. MARK NEWMAN / Getty Images

All four were struck and killed by vehicles, the commission said. In 2023, 13 Florida panthers were killed by vehicle strikes. In 2022 and 2021, 27 panthers were killed by vehicles each year. In total, 239 Florida panthers have died in vehicular collisions in the past 10 years, according to Panther Crossing, an organization dedicated to reducing deaths of the animals due to cars. 

"The FWC encourages motorists to slow down and observe all posted speed limits, especially in panther zones, which are in place in several counties across South Florida and coincide with areas where panthers are known to cross," the commission said in the news release. "These panthers zone help ensure the survival of the endangered Florida panther and protect motorists from personal injury." 

Only between 120 to 230 adult panthers are alive in the state, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The animals were once present across the Southeast, but now mostly live in Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, according to prior CBS News reporting. The panther population was mostly decimated by hunting, according to the National Wildlife Federation, and remains susceptible to low genetic diversity, illnesses and habitat loss. 

"The subspecies is so critically endangered that it is vulnerable to just about every major threat," according to the NWF. 

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