Collier residents reminded about living with panthers
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) and the Florida Panther Interagency Response Team
confirmed a recent incident involving a Florida panther on a
property in the Golden Gate Estates area of Collier County. The
human-panther interaction is classified as an "incident," in
accordance with the Florida Panther Response Plan - the guiding
document state and federal agencies follow when dealing with
On Oct. 4, a Golden Gate Estates resident reported
to the FWC that he heard growling coming from an adjacent property
in the early morning hours. The resident looked in the direction of
the growling and saw a panther on the other side of the fence. The
resident backed away, and the panther remained at the fence.
Upon investigation, FWC panther biologist Mark Lotz
confirmed that a panther family had killed some of the resident's
livestock over the weekend, and the panther the resident saw was
standing at the site where recent prey was consumed. FWC biologists
believe the growling is natural behavior for a panther defending
its kill or kittens, and not a public-safety concern.
After concluding the panther(s) had returned for
additional prey, the FWC set up cameras around the property and
continued to monitor the situation. One camera captured images of
an adult female and two 13-month-old kittens near the property. In
the meantime, the resident made modifications to the existing
fencing around his livestock to deter panthers.
The FWC advises that these incidents are
preventable if pet owners and livestock owners take proper
measures. FWC biologists believe that until the attractants are
removed or secured, the panthers will return to the area for
"Vigilance is the key to protecting people's pets
and livestock," Lotz said. "These animals need to be secured,
especially at night, in predator-proof enclosures that have sturdy
walls and a roof."
Lotz said 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
"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 have been listed as endangered
since 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 at least 100 panthers in Florida.
Human-panther encounters are occurring more often because of human
encroachment near panther habitat and an increase in the panther
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.