News Releases

FWC urges responsible behavior when living near panthers

News Release

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Media contact: Gabriella Ferraro, 772-215-9459; Gary Morse, 863-227-3830

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has received several reports in recent weeks of panthers roaming around Collier County residents' yards. FWC panther biologists have confirmed panther sightings since February near Golden Gate Estates. A panther killed goats in two incidents at one location. The residence where the incidents occurred did not have predator-proof enclosures for the animals.

The FWC advises that these incidents are preventable if pet owners and livestock hobbyists take proper measures.

"Vigilance is key to protecting people's pets and livestock," said Mark Lotz, a biologist on the FWC's panther team. "These animals need to be secured, especially at night, in predator-proof enclosures that have sturdy walls and a roof."

Lotz says securing livestock and pets will protect them from all predators, such as dogs, coyotes and bobcats, in addition to panthers. Panthers are attracted to prey, such as deer, wild hogs, raccoons, rabbits and armadillos. By feeding deer or other wildlife, people can inadvertently attract panthers. Residents should secure all potential food sources, such as garbage or pet food, which attract wildlife.

Pets that are free-roaming, or pets that are tethered and unfenced, are easy prey for predators, including panthers.

"Where practical, put chickens, goats, hogs or other livestock in enclosed structures at night," Lotz said. "Electric fencing can be an effective predator deterrent."

Florida panthers were listed as endangered in 1967 and are protected under both federal and state laws. The panther population declined to approximately 30 cats by the early 1980s. Today there are about 100 panthers in Florida. Human-panther encounters are occurring more often because of human encroachment near panther habitat and an increase in the panther population.

According to FWC biologists, it is important to remember that a panther sighting does not necessarily constitute a threat to human safety. The FWC recommends that anyone who spots a panther should enjoy the experience from a safe distance or from inside a structure. Following all of the precautions outlined by the FWC will help protect pets and livestock.

"Removing the offending panther is not a solution. If the attractant remains, another panther will move in," Lotz said. "Protecting your investment is the best solution for you, your animals and the endangered panther."

To report panther threats, pets or livestock lost to a panther, or an injured or dead panther, call the FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). For more information on how to live safely with panthers, download the "Living with Panthers" brochure at www.FloridaPantherNet.org. The purchase of panther specialty license plates helps fund panther research and management. Visit www.buyaplate.com for more information.



FWC Facts:
Like all North American terns, the least tern has long, pointed wings and a deeply forked tail. It is the smallest of Florida's terns.

Learn More at AskFWC