Florida panthers. Get an inside look at panthers in the historic Everglades. Chad Gillis/

This adult male Florida panther growled as he left his shipping container to enter his new home at Big Cypress National Preserve.(Photo: FILE by Gregory Smith, Gregory Smith, ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Although the Florida panther population is growing, the number of overall documented deaths may be down this year for the first time in years. 

Twenty-eight big cats have died this year, with 23 of those being road kills and the others with cause of death listed as intraspecific aggression (panthers killing panthers) and unknown. 

That’s down from last year’s record of 42 overall deaths and 34 vehicle kills, although there are still three weeks left in the year. 

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“We hope there will be fewer cars struck by panthers by cars this year than last year and we’ll see if that’s a trend or there’s just a slight down-tick,” said Darrell Land, a panther biologist for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission working in Naples. “(But) one year doesn’t make a long-term trend.” 

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Forty-one panther deaths were documented in 2015, with 33 deaths in 2014 and 21 deaths in 2013 — the last time deaths were below 30 for a year. 

Here are some other interesting facts about the year in panthers: 

► A second female panther was documented north of the Caloosahatchee River in the Fisheating Creek area earlier this year. This is only the second female found north of the river since 1973, and the first was

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