ORLANDO, Fla. — Five Florida panthers were killed by vehicles in July, including a pregnant female and its two unborn kittens, marking the deadliest month for the endangered species in almost a year.

  • 5 Florida panthers struck, killed by vehicles in July, officials say
  • One of the wild cats was pregnant and was carrying 2 kittens
  • FWC: Vehicle collisions are leading cause of Florida panther deaths

The 5-year-old pregnant panther was killed by a vehicle July 22 on Golden Gate Boulevard in Collier County. Its kittens were a male and a female, according to statistics released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The other Florida panthers that were killed last month were an 11-month-old female on July 26 and 1 1/2-year-old female on July 3, both of which were struck and killed on separate stretches of State Road 82 in Lee County.

The last time five panthers were killed by vehicles was October 2018, according to FWC numbers. 

Including the unborn kittens, wildlife officials say 17 panthers have been killed so far this year, most by vehicles. Last year, 30 cat deaths were reported.

Vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death for the state's native wild cat.

Florida panthers are a subspecies of puma, also called mountain lions or cougars. They're they last subspecies still living in the eastern U.S. and are state and federally protected. Their range is mostly in South Florida, in and around the Everglades.

Biologists estimate there are about 200 left in the wild.

Injured or dead panthers should be reported immediately to the FWC Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).