~Above photo: FWC public records. FWC officer documents young male Florida Panther hit on Hwy. 710, November 2, 2019.
I waited a long time to share this photograph. It’s almost too much to take.
This panther was hit and killed November 2, 2019, on Highway 710, less than a mile south of Indiantown in Martin County, Florida. Today I share this photo because of an article I read in TCPalm by environmental reporter, Max Chesnes. The title of the article is Man Walking From Vero Beach to Key West to Tallahassee for Panther Donations.
It is a story of loss and inspiration.
Mr Chesnes explains that when tragedy struck, Mr Steve Fugate “hit the road.” Fugate had lost his son to suicide and his daughter to accidental drug overdose To cope, the 74 year old Vero Beach native, began walking, finding solace and inspiration in Nature along the way…
There are panthers in Martin County.
In 2016, I wrote about one sighted in Allapattah Flats – ten miles west of Palm City, where in fact, SFWDM just held a Ribbon-Cutting. But because Panthers are few and far between compared to the south west coast of Florida, in my opinion, they do not get the government press or the protection via fencing and wildlife underpasses they should here. There is no urgency anyway.
“It was just one hit in twenty years.” I’ve heard. “Most are on the west coast…”
I think there should be signs, underpasses, fencing, and press on the east coast as well. For Mr Fugate and others, every life counts. Thank you to reporter, Max Chesnes and thank you to Mr Fugate, I am inspired! I will be making a donation on the panther’s behalf!
TCpalm: In an effort to raise awareness, and funding for the critically endangered Florida Panther, Vero Beach native, Steve Fugate has partnered with the Fish & Wildlife Foundation of Florida and started on a nearly three-week, 1,600mile walk around Florida. Photo PATRICK DOVE/TCPALM. Click here for full article.
“Now, Fugate hopes to give back to the natural world and its inhabitants that embraced him throughout the years. His latest walk, which started Saturday, will take him from Vero Beach — through St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties — to Key West, then up Florida’s west coast from Naples to Tallahassee.
The nearly three-week, 1,600-mile journey is meant to raise awareness and funding for the critically endangered Florida panther, he said.
“They’re just gorgeous animals,” Fugate said of the species, named in 1982 as Florida’s official state animal. There are only an estimated 120 to 230 wild panthers left, according to data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.