FWC to Golden Gate Estates residents: Secure your pets and livestock
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Media contact: Gabriella B. Ferraro, 772-215-9459
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation
Commission (FWC) has confirmed four panther depredations to date
this month in the Golden Gate Estates area of Collier County. FWC
biologists believe a panther family is roaming around residents'
properties looking for food. The female panther has killed chickens
and goats. The depredations occurred in areas that did not have
predator-proof enclosures for the animals.
The FWC and the Collier County Sheriff's Office
advise that these incidents are preventable if pet owners and
livestock owners take proper measures.
"Vigilance is the 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 FloridaPantherNet.org.
The purchase of panther specialty license plates helps fund panther
research and management. Visit buyaplate.com for more information.