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Hundreds of Panther Sightings Reported in Florida

Hundreds of sightings of panthers roaming wild in Florida have been reported by the public to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) website launched a year ago, the agency said in a news statement.

As of August 2013, the public had submitted 790 sightings to MyFWC.com/PantherSightings, where people can record when and where they saw a panther or its tracks, FWC said.

“Only 12 percent of the reports included a photograph and could be evaluated by Commission biologists. Of those with photos, the majority were confirmed as panthers. Other animals identified by FWC biologists were bobcats, foxes, coyotes, dogs, house cats and even a monkey. Most often the reported animal or tracks belonged to a bobcat, when it was not a panther.”

Verified reports were largely confined to southwest Florida, a well-documented breeding range for panthers in the state. There also were several verified sightings in south central Florida.

“The public’s willingness to share what they have seen or collected on game cameras is incredibly helpful and shows us where panthers presumably are roaming in Florida,” said Darrell Land, the FWC’s panther team manager.

“As the population of this endangered species grows, the FWC expects more Florida panthers to be seen in areas of the state where they have not lived for decades,” Land added. “To properly plan and manage for the expansion of the panther’s range in Florida, information about where the panthers are is vital.” (Read the related post Breeding success for Florida’s wild panthers.)

The FWC has a new “E-Z guide to identify panther tracks” available at www.FloridaPantherNet.org.

The agency estimates the Florida panther population to be 100 to 160 adults and yearlings, a figure that does not include panther kittens. As recently as the 1970s, the Florida panther was close to disappearing, with as few as 20 animals in the wild.

This post was based on press materials sent by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Learn more about Florida panthers at www.FloridaPantherNet.org.

Comments

  1. Butch Black
    North Port, Fl.
    August 6, 10:31 pm

    No doubt. I had just turned north onto Tamiami Trail from Cornelius, no traffic in front of me or behind me and the cat crossed in front of me from north to south. I’m new to this area from Calif and Oregon, I thought it was a big cougar until I got home and did some research. Brown Pantha. Odd thing is, a couple walking their big dog didn’t even see it as it crossed 50 feet in front of them before crossing 41.

  2. Sean
    North Hutchison Island Ft. Pierce, FL
    July 18, 1:36 pm

    Two Florida Panther sightings about 10 years ago. One was seen near the entrance of the old hammock trail in North Jetty State Park and the other was seen crossing A1A near Pepper Park.

  3. Squall line
    SC
    May 4, 5:49 pm

    Around 1975 I saw one cross the road from a subdivision into a pine thicket about 3 miles from the university of Fla. Gainesville Fla.

  4. George
    Bronson,FL
    April 17, 5:11 pm

    I was driving a Uhaul truck towing my trailer home after a breakdown north of Branson and I noticed another Uhaul truck approaching me and it appeared that there was a black trash bag stuck under his truck but he was stopping in the middle of the road, while the car behind him swerved onto the shoulder to avoid hitting him. It looked like the trash bag was rolling then all of a sudden as I approached, the ‘bag’ took off and ran across the road, I never knew there were what I think is a black panther or whatever in FL. it was wild.

  5. Mike M
    April 16, 6:15 am

    Spotted a large all black cat approx 4ft long on the lake Apopka north side trail about 1 mile out. Was hanging around the aluminum sulfate pumps and stared at me for a good minute before running back into the brush. Didn’t appear to have the bobcat ears, spots, or tufts of hair but I’m not sure if it was a jaguar or leopard, or bobcat. The longer tail makes me lean towards leopard, wish I had a good camera on me!

  6. Bob and Debbie Bickel
    Deltona, Florida, Summerfield farms
    April 11, 7:35 pm

    April 11, 2014 late morning our dogs gave chase and lucky for the dogs the panther climbed a pine tree 3\4 of the way to the top. I called and the dogs returned and were put in the house. The panther climbed down and disappeared in the thick brush. My wife watched it with field glasses as it climbed down. Very exciting experience and very rare. One big beautiful cat!

  7. Robin spruill
    Flagler beach
    April 8, 10:46 pm

    Panther ran across path 04.08.14 near flagler beach library. Wow, what an experience! l

  8. Donna Martin
    Fort Pierce, Fl
    April 4, 7:16 pm

    Last year in the middle of the day, I was traveling north on A1A between Jensen and Fort Pierce, when a Florida Panthers crossed the road in front of me carrying a cub in it’s mouth. This section of the island is known for the panters that roam there.

  9. jean K.
    Port Richey, Fl.
    March 25, 8:55 pm

    they have signs telling you that there are Panther crossing on a main highway close to the airport in Fort Myers, Fl. So they must be there.

  10. Erica
    Lakeland, Fl.
    March 22, 11:06 am

    I live in a part of lakeland were there is a lot of woods. I was walking on night at about 9 pm down to my mail box with my neighbor and my dog. All I remember is my dog growling an I looked behind me and he had this black fury thing by the neck. My neighbors dogs all immediately came to help. They actually made it hard for him to concentrate and the black animal got away. As I watched it climb my neighbors tree I said ok its clearly a cat. Then one night I was sitting on my porch enjoying the night eith my light off and I was trying to get what I thought was my dog to come inside. My dog is a large 85 lb black lab and pit mix, and at night his eyes shinr blue. This black animal sat in my neighbors yard across our dirt road and just starred at me. Its eyes shines a blueish gold. As I called my dogs name again he came running up from the opposite direction and the black animal ran up the nearest tree. Then I finally saw what it was. It is not an adult, because its as big as my 85lb do, but it was big and black. I was sitting outside at about 5pm watching my three children play before dinner, when I heard the leaves behind me rustling.y dog took of and I saw a huge black cat climb a tree that was layed down in my other neighbors yard and he looked back to reveal yellow eyes and the face structure of a tiger. He then dissappeared. I am affraid for my children they are said to prdy on small beings snd my children are 4,2,and 1.

  11. Ray
    Wedgefield, Fl
    March 15, 5:37 pm

    I was driving to work today 3/15/14 at 3:00 AM and so I could not get a picture of it unfortunately. But it was an awesome sight to behold, something that I will remember for a very long time. I was traveling north on 520 and when I moved over to the left lane to merge onto 50, I spotted it in the divide between the north and south 520. It was moving in a westerly direction.

  12. gary
    orlando fl
    March 13, 11:58 am

    Black panther sern 11:30. Eagle creek construction site .this is populated area.ran into area narcoossee road.

  13. Mike & Karen
    Palm Beach County & southwestern Martin counties
    March 11, 4:29 pm

    I’ve seen Two Black Fla. Panthers in my life time in the Wild, I’m 66 years old now.
    Once in 1966 and the other in 2012.
    The one in 66 was at night but I was able to put my car’s Bright High beam headlights right on it as it was walking across a dirt road I was on. This sighting was in Hypoluxo, Fla. and clearly a Black Panther as my lights caught it’s full body view from the side. I couldn’t tell if it’s Male or Female.
    The second time was in 2012 when my wife and I were taking an afternoon drive on The DuPuis Auto Tour dirt road and I spotted another Black Panther crossing the dirt road ahead of us. This time my wife was with me to see a Black Panther too. I think this one was younger than the first one I’d seen but we both could clearly see it was a Black Panther.

  14. Mike
    Duval ct fl
    March 1, 9:19 pm

    I dont think panthers were nearly extinct in fl in the 70s .I know several people,all outdoorsmen,that saw panthers in N florida in the 60s and 70s . Around 1970 , when I was around 10 years old,I caught a glimpse of a big cat somewhere around the Duval and St Johns ct line. It came out of the brush and jumped right back in. It would have been big for a bobcat .so I think it was a young panther.If you talk to the old timers in this area they can tell you plenty of stories about panthers between jax and st augustine,not to mention bears.Sadly,its all going now to developments.

  15. Kelley
    Ohio
    February 2, 6:09 pm

    While in Tampa over Christmas 2013 my husband I are were at Flatwoods park and we saw a group of 3-4 blank panthers walking off the bike trail behind a large pond. I couldn’t believe what I saw! They were beautiful to watch from a distance!!!

  16. robert petty
    Shell Point
    January 22, 4:19 pm

    I also saw an adolescent panther run across Shell Point Blvd. near the Woodlands at around 3:00pm on Jan. 3, 2014. Didn’t think anything of it till I researched how rare these animals truly are. Wondering if anyone else has seen one in that area of Ft. Myers besides Pam Lowe?

  17. Chris Martin
    Ft.Myers, Fl.
    January 6, 7:41 am

    A Fl. Panther ran across the road 20 feet in from of my truck this morning. This was on Buckingham Rd. between the S- curves.
    I have lived in Fl. most of my life ( I”m 57 ) and this is the first one I have seen in the wild alive.

  18. Carol McGrory
    Eustis, Florida
    December 28, 2013, 1:20 pm

    I live on a small lake in an oak hammock. This past April, I was awake late at night and looking out at the lake and saw a panther walking along the shore by the light of the moon….I saw more of a silouette of it, but it was a big cat with a tail longer than the length of its body. I saw it again very clearly by the light of my neighbors motion detector light on Labor Day weekend. The night before last, I heard something LARGE walking around on my roof. And then heard it jump off the roof to my deck….it actually made my house shake!! So, Last night I came out on my deck, thinking it might be there again, and I startled it. It went scurrying down a tree that grows in the middle of my deck and jumped about 20 feet to the ground! I saw it plain as day! Scared the HELL out of me and him. My concern is my 21 month old grandson and my chocolate lab.

  19. Pam Lowe
    Shell Point Fort Myers 12/26/13
    December 26, 2013, 6:22 pm

    5:20 pm behind the large pond adjacent to the woods in the Woodlands. Sauntering down the sidewalk at dusk, for a few minutes , then disappeared into the mangroves. Had an iPhone only but too far away and too sudden for a photo.

  20. Dave Mahon
    Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge - Sanibel island, FL
    December 25, 2013, 9:03 pm

    At 4:15 today (Xmas Day) I was about 1/2 way on the Indigo Trail, riding my bike East. I saw a big cat (at least 2 feet tall at the back haunches) that looked like a black panther walking down the trail ahead of me. I stopped and watched it walk Eastward (towards the Education Center). As I was all alone, I turned around and rode my bike the other way. I had seen scat on this same trail, as I walked it the day before, that looked like panther scat (I checked pictures of it it online).

  21. Mick
    Englewood,Florida
    November 19, 2013, 5:07 pm

    Just saw a young lighter colored panther in my back yard a few minutes ago.
    Wow it was beautiful but I am also a little nervous about my two cats as they go outside a lot .
    I look around for where my one big cat is as he runs past the
    Panther to come in the house as it starts to pour outside!
    The panther just goes back into the woods and I could not believe what I just saw.

  22. Amanda
    Durant Fl
    October 22, 2013, 3:47 pm

    Just seen a FL Panther this morning in my backyard. I just couldn’t believe it! I have never seen one or even heard of anyone seeing one. Wow pretty awesome but scary due to my little kids that like to play in the yard

  23. Cathy
    Fl
    October 10, 2013, 6:59 pm

    I too have seen panthers (group of 3 – 2 large/1 small) in Marion Oaks – Pine Eden. My daughter also seen 3 – which we believe was the same group. On Aug 17 2013 there was a large bear right outside my front door. Needless to say I was startled. It stood up, turn around and slowly walked away. I grabbed my camera and was able to get a few pictures of it. Now today, I seen something I have no idea exactly what it was. It was a very large solid black cat, rear legs longer than the front legs, big head, long tail and about knee high. It was larger than a bobcat – it was about the size of a panther. I’m putting up a tree cam so I can obtain some pictures of them.

  24. Paula Martin
    United States
    August 26, 2013, 7:35 pm

    I lived in Floral City, Fl – I was staying in this pool house of my boyfriends brother’s house and was sitting out back one day on the phone with my mom in Ohio and seen a black Panther in a neighbor’s back yard, it went next to a tree and laid down and I remember telling my mom that I just seen a black panther and was walking to the edge of my yard and it got up and ran away, I thought that was pretty cool.

  25. Denise
    New Jersey
    August 26, 2013, 6:09 pm

    Once again. Man going into wild animal areas and in shock they are seeing wild animals! They were there first! And as for the Airboat guy saying one killed a deer, well they have to eat! And if they are going into populated areas, its because we are invading their space!

  26. Ellory Dahl
    canada
    August 24, 2013, 4:09 pm

    Yeah wild animals in the wild that’s a horrible thing we want to save all these wild animals in Africa but when it’s in our own backyard we’re scared to death of them the only living creature on this planet that anyone should fear other humans the only species that kills fear, ignorance and intolerance when i moved out to the contry and coyotes started killing off my pets someone said take a gun and shoot the coyotes i told them i didn’t come out here to kill off the wildlife i put up a fence to keep my livestock and pets safe

  27. Friends of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge
    Collier County, Florida
    August 23, 2013, 9:42 am

    Great Story, Thanks! If anyone is looking for more updates and news about the conservation efforts for the Florida Panther, like the Friends of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/FOFPR

  28. Ed Cannon
    Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, working
    August 21, 2013, 10:51 am

    I am 5th generation Floridian form the North Marion county area & I have never seen a Florida panther in the wild. Little worried about the large non-native snakes that are creeping to the north part of the state tho. Dang we only had to worry about rattllers, mockisons & coral snakes, now we have to think about these big dudes when your walking thru the swamps.

  29. lol at mike
    August 21, 2013, 6:47 am

    Not sure anyone is shocked by the panther sightings? I think it’s just an informative article about panthers coming back from endangered status. Not sure that panthers are “silent killers out for revenge” either….

  30. Mike
    August 17, 2013, 6:00 pm

    Well duh The everglades is a jungle like ecosystem and that is the natural ecosystem for Panther’s so why are we acting all shocked to see Panther’s in a tropical atmosphere like Florida? I mean seriously Florida Texas, Arizona and southern California has always been the Panther’s Natural Habitat you all just scared cause they are silent killers and have motive to kill humans who destroyed have the tropical jungles in Florida and destroyed their homes lol!

  31. Wild Florida Airboats
    Saint Cloud, FL
    August 16, 2013, 1:08 pm

    Wild Florida Airboats is an eco tour company about 45 mins from Disney and downtown Orlando. We believe a panther killed one of the white tailed deer in our wildlife park exhibit!