2 endangered Florida panthers found dead a day apart

FWC photo / Tim Donovan

Two endangered Florida panthers have been found dead a day apart.

They're the first deaths reported in 2018, both caused vehicle strikes. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says a 4-month-old female was found Sunday along Interstate 75 in southwest Florida and a 3-year-old female on a highway elsewhere in the region.

Florida panthers once roamed the entire Southeast, but now their habitat mostly is confined to a small region of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico. Up to 230 Florida panthers remain in the wild.

Wildlife officials reported 30 panther deaths in 2017, including 24 fatal vehicle collisions in southwest Florida. That's down from 42 deaths in 2016 and the same number in 2015.

Seven panther litters with a total of 19 kittens were documented last year.