DANGERS OF THE ROAD
Roadways all over the world have proven to be dangerous places for both
wildlife and people.
For a panther, a road has often been nothing more than a pathway to
its grave. Our roads remain one of the greatest threats to the Florida panther, and collisions with cars continue to be a
leading cause of death.
You may question why a panther would need to cross the road? Some of our
major roadways cut through prime panther habitat and often slice through a cat’s home range. In the course of daily
activities a panther may cross a road to find food, water, a mate, a suitable den site, or protect its territory from a rival
panther. It may also run across a road to flee from a threat, such as fire, a bear, dog, or even a human.
The fact is, every single panther is important; it contributes to the
genetic diversity of this endangered population. A female panther is responsible for bringing the next generation of panthers
into the world. If a female dies on the road, or is injured and needs treatment, it means removing her from the population;
she may in fact be leaving behind a litter of kits that cannot survive without her, essentially robbing the population of
new blood. If a male is injured and has to be removed, he may loose the rights to that territory, and upon his return, end
up fighting another panther risking further injury or death. When one panther is hit by a car there could be much more at
can we make an effort to contribute to their lives and not their mortality? Yes we can, the State
of Florida is trying but as always there is always more we can do. Wildlife agencies, the Florida department of Transport,
conservation groups, private companies and citizens, have come together to save the lives of panthers. Here are some of those
Florida has constructed over 26 underpasses,
which allow panthers and other animals to cross under the road. A portion of the road is fenced and in some areas vegetation
is used as a barrier to help direct the animal to the underpass. A lot of research went into learning where these cats were
crossing, and into the designing and engineering of these structures. Many have cameras to document who is using them.
Panther Crossing Sign
A yellow diamond shaped road sign with the silhouette of a panther. This
sign tells a driver that panthers cross the road in this area, so be watchful and obey the speed limit. Panthers can be very
fast, you may only catch a movement out of the corner of your eye, be ready to slow down or brake safely for a panther on
A speed zone is not giving you permission to speed; it is better referred to as a slow zone. The speed
limit is slower at nighttime in these areas for a designated number of miles; the signs will notify you of the speed to be
obeyed usually 45mph.
Roadside Animal Detection System. This high tech system
is designed to sense a large animal approaching the road and a flashing advisory sign alerts the driver to the animals’
presence. The first one for panthers has been installed in a slow speed zone on U.S.41 in Big Cypress.
AD Agency donated space on a digital billboard on US-41 south of Alico rd in Lee county Florida, the billboards message is
asking motorists to slow down & watch for endangered Florida panthers.
Policing Panther Highways
Law enforcement officers’ petrol some of these roads at night, making sure drivers are obeying the speed
limit. If you get caught speeding you may get a ticket along with an educational pamphlet on wildlife and road safety, or
be required to appear in court.
Florida has proven it is serious about protecting the panther, lots of sweat & tears, time and
money have been pored into some of these projects not just to keep the panther safe, but to keep you safe as well, helping
to prevent personal injury and damage to your vehicle. Please support the continuation of such projects for wildlife, and
if you get the opportunity to - remember to thank those people involved.