WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Three rare Florida panthers have been killed this week, bringing the total to 12 for the year as habitat for the cat shrinks, an environmental group says.
The number of Florida panthers remaining in the wild is estimated to range between 100 and 120, a release from the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said Wednesday.
The nature of the recent deaths is troubling, the group said, as more and more panthers are dying from "intraspecific aggression," being killed by other panthers protecting their home ranges. Previously, car collisions had been the leading cause of panther deaths, PEER said.
"Panthers need lots of land ... The home range of male panthers is about 520 square kilometers(200 square miles)," the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission said on its Web site. "That's about 400 times as large as Disney's Magic Kingdom. The female's range is about 195 square kilometers (75 square miles)."
Florida panthers have been listed as an endangered species for more than 40 years. Panther deaths this year are nearly double their replacement from new litters, PEER said.