The Florida panther, Florida's official state animal, has been listed as a federally endangered species since 1967. As the state grows, suitable habitat for panthers and other wildlife shrinks. Florida panthers normally live in remote, undeveloped areas. But as both the number of panthers and the number of people living and recreating in Florida grows, so does the chance of an encounter with a panther.
Encounters with Florida panthers are relatively rare but do occur, particularly in rural parts of southwest Florida. If you live, work or recreate in panther habitat, there are things you can do to enhance your safety and that of your friends, family and animals.
If you encounter a Florida panther:
- Keep children within sight and close to you.
- Give the panther space. Most Florida panthers will avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
- Do not run. Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
- Avoid crouching or bending over. Squatting or bending over makes you look smaller, resembling a prey-sized animal.
- Make yourself appear larger, open your jacket, raise your arms, throw stones, branches, etc. without turning away.
- If attacked, fight back with whatever is at hand (without turning your back).
- See our flyer on Panther Safety Tips.
If you feel threatened by a panther, or have lost pets or livestock to a panther, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922) or #FWC and *FWC on a cell phone.
There are also things you can do to make your yard less attractive to panthers. Individual circumstances vary, but options to consider include:
- Electric fence about two feet high around animal pens.
- Motion-activated lighting (a light that is always on may help you to see what's happening but will not deter a panther.)
- Clear or mow vegetation that may provide concealment for panthers.
- Do not feed wildlife because panthers may be attracted to areas where prey animals congregate.
- Construct a secure pen for pets and livestock.
Simply seeing a panther in your neighborhood is not necessarily a cause for alarm. However, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) biologists are interested in your sighting of a panther or its tracks. Please send us details of your sighting plus upload any pictures to: Report Florida Panther Sightings.
For more information on how to safely coexist with Florida panthers, please see the brochure: A guide to living with Florida Panthers.