Florida panther deaths stay at record high

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - The number of Florida panther deaths remained at a record high for 2016.

According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission figures, 42 of the big cats were killed in the state last year.

That matches a record set in 2015, which was up from 34 panther deaths in 2014

Thirty-four were hit by vehicles in southwest Florida, where development is shrinking what's left of their habitat.

The tally kept by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission includes six new litters, with a total of 14 cubs born in 2016. But the state estimates that only 100 to 180 of the big cats remain in the wild.

Critics say government officials have failed to implement "coherent efforts" to save the Florida panthers. In a statement Wednesday, Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said he doesn't expect their plight to improve under President-elect Donald Trump.