@natgeo

September 11 2019 - 00:15

Photos by Carlton Ward Jr. @carltonward | Vehicle strikes are the leading cause of death for Florida panthers—nearly 30 panthers are killed on roads each year. Lara Cusack, panther veterinarian with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, examines a young male panther killed on Collier Boulevard in Naples, where development continues to sprawl east, cutting further into primary panther habitat. Please see the new National Geographic article by Douglas Main about how new toll roads threaten to block the recovery of the Florida panther. Learn how landscape-scale conservation planning, including wildlife habitat corridors and wildlife crossings at roads, can help reduce habitat fragmentation and road kills. In the second photo, a male Florida panther crosses safely beneath Interstate 75 from Picayune Strand State Forest to Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge. This section of I-75 between Naples and Miami cuts through millions of acres of public land and primary panther habitat, including Big Cypress National Preserve. Thanks to cross fencing and more than 30 wildlife underpasses, there are rarely panthers or other large wildlife killed on the highway. The lesson is that wildlife crossings work very well, and all new roads through the wildlife corridors should have them. But even more important: we must conserve millions of acres of missing links in the Florida Wildlife Corridor for a connected habitat network to support wildlife crossing. This camera trap photo is the most technically complicated I’ve attempted. There are 14 camera flashes, 300 yards of cabling, three radio channels, and a laser trigger with a solar panel. Please visit @carltonward to learn more about the photography and @pathofthepanther project with @insidenatgeo and @fl_wildcorridor. #pathofthepanther #floridawild #keepflwild

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