FWC urges responsible behavior when living near panthers
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
"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
"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.