According to a report compiled by a group of federal and state agencies, Florida panther depredations more than doubled in Fiscal Year 2010-2011 as compared to Fiscal Year 2009-2010.
The report, called the 2010-11 Interagency Florida Panther Response Team Report, summarized human-panther interactions investigated by the Interagency Florida Panther Response Team between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2011.
The rise in depredations is the report’s most notable finding. Depredations more than doubled in FY10-11 (28 depredations) from FY09-10 (12 depredations). However, officials caution that this isn’t necessarily a cause for concern.
“The exact reason for the increase is unknown, but we speculate that a family group — a mother and her three kittens — took advantage of plentiful, unsecured hobby livestock/pets in a Naples neighborhood,” said biologist Mark Lotz of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). “Another potential reason is that our outreach efforts have been effective and more people are reporting depredations now.”
Ben Nottingham of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge added, “The increase in reported and confirmed depredations by panthers exemplifies the need for animal owners to diligently protect their animals by securing them in predator-proof enclosures. Doing so will prevent loss of pets/animals, prevent attracting panthers and promote public safety.”
The Response Team includes biologists, law enforcement officers and other agency representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and the FWC. As more humans move into panther habitat, the potential for human-panther interactions increases so the team developed a plan to promote public safety and panther conservation.
The report summarizes human-panther interactions including panther sightings, encounters, and panther depredations on domestic livestock and various pets. Additionally, the report summarizes outreach and educational efforts completed by the team, partnering organizations and local government agencies to provide the public with the information and tools they need to live and recreate in panther habitat. To view the report, please visit www.fws.gov/verobeach or floridapanthernet.org