The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is one of the most endangered mammals, with the entire population estimated to consist of only 30–50 adult animals. Between 1978 and 1999, 73 free-ranging Florida panther carcasses were submitted for postmortem evaluation, of which 47 (64%) were radiocollared and 26 (36%) were uncollared cats. Overall, mortality of panthers <6-mo-old was due to vehicular trauma in 25 (35%), intraspecific aggression in 19 (26%), illegal kill in seven (10%), research activities in two (3%), infectious diseases in two (3%), esophageal tear in one (1%), pleuritis in one (1%), pyothorax in one (1%), aortic aneurysm in one (1%), atrial septal defect in one (1%), and causes of death were undetermined in 13 (18%) due to autolysis. Of the 25 panthers that were killed by vehicular trauma, 20 (80%) died between October and April. This coincides with increased number of winter visitors to south Florida. Among radiocollared panthers, intraspecific aggression was the primary cause of mortality for 19 (41%) dead cats. Of these cats, 16 (84%) were males and 14 (88%) were either less than 3 or more than 8-yr-old. These animals were probably fighting to establish or retain territory. Among the 26 uncollared panthers, vehicular trauma was the primary cause of mortality and was responsible for 16 (62%) deaths. This study documents the causes of mortality and the age, sex, and seasonal mortality trends for both radiocollared and uncollared free-ranging endangered Florida panthers over a 21-yr-period.
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Vol. 38 • No. 1