Two weeks ago, when the year's 19th Florida panther was killed by a vehicle, experts warned that the all-time record would fall by New Year's Day.
It happened Friday, when the remains of a roughly 6-month-old male panther were found on a roadside in Collier County, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Cause of death: vehicle collision.
The panther was found in Golden Gate Estates, panther biologist Mark Lotz said. The Collier County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene about 1 a.m. and notified the FWC about nine hours later.
Lotz did not know how the Sheriff's Office found out about the panther, which was not wearing an FWC tracking collar.
"Typically dead panthers are just seen by some citizen, and they report it," Lotz said. "Very rarely do we know more than that."
The carcass will be sent to the FWC's Gainesville lab for a necropsy, Lotz said.
The year's 19th road mortality, which tied the record, was discovered Nov. 13, also in Collier County.
Biologists estimate the population of panthers now to be from 100 to 180 adults and an unknown number of cubs. In addition to the loss of 20 to collisions with cars and trucks this year, another four were killed by other causes.
Times staff writer Craig Pittman contributed to this report. Contact Tony Marrero at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @tmarrerotimes.