Panther attacks on pets, livestock continue in Golden Gate Estates
A goat and two mini horses are the latest victims of livestock or pets killed during panther attacks in Golden Gate Estates.
Since Oct. 1 there have been five reports of a Florida panther killing livestock or a pet in Golden Gate Estates; 24 of these incidents have been reported statewide this year.
Some have involved the killing of multiple animals by a panther, and the bulk took place in Collier County; only three of these incidents were reported outside Collier County this year.
Two mini horses were killed Oct. 15 and 16 in separate panther attacks. The first attack occurred on Oil Well Road and the second on 24th Avenue Northeast in Golden Gate Estates.
The goat was killed Oct. 18 on Jung Boulevard in Golden Gate Estates.
Carli Segelson, a spokeswoman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the FWC does not consider the recent panther incidents to be abnormal.
“There have been more depredations in recent years as panther numbers increased and the number of people living in or adjacent to panther habitat also increased,” Segelson said via email. “We have experienced periods of time where few incidents occurred followed by periods of increased activity.”
In 2017 the agency recorded 49 panther attacks on pets or livestock resulting in injury or death in Collier County. The FWC recorded 25 such panther attacks in 2016.
Earlier this month: Panther kills 500-pound pet pony in Golden Gate Estates
Contrary to rumors floating around after the recent attacks in Golden Gate Estates, panthers do not kill for fun and are acting on instinct, Segelson said.
“Sometimes multiple animals are attacked when they are confined in a small area with no means of escape,” Segelson said via email. “The panther's predatory behavior is over-stimulated because its prey is trying to get away but cannot.”
Studies by FWC panther biologists show that a panther’s diet typically consists of natural prey such as deer, wild hogs and raccoons.
However, domesticated animals such as goats, sheep and calves are periodically attacked by panthers in areas where this prey is available, Segelson said.
The FWC does not plan on removing or trapping any panthers, an endangered species, from the Golden Gate Estates area at this time. If a panther’s behavior indicates a threat to human safety then it would be permanently removed from the wild by the FWC, Segelson said.
In addition to putting the information out online, FWC employees are putting out signs in the Golden Gate Estates area and setting up canvassing efforts to alert residents of the recent panther activity.
“The FWC is concerned about public safety and provides guidance about how people and their pets and livestock can coexist with panthers on the landscape,” Segelson said via email.
The best way to protect household pets and livestock to keep them indoors or in a predator-resistant enclosure, especially at night, according to the FWC.
Any unsecured domestic animal may be at risk to depredation by panthers or other wildlife such as bears, coyotes, bobcats or even domestic dogs, according to the FWC.
For an enclosure to provide adequate protection against panthers, it must be totally enclosed and consistently used, Segelson said.
The FWC also recommends residents in areas prone to panther attacks install electric fences around animal pens and add motion-activated lights.
Clearing or mowing vegetation that could conceal panthers, as well as refraining from feeding other types of wildlife, can prevent panther attacks as well, according to the FWC.
To report a suspected panther attack, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC(3922) or #FWC or *FWC on a cell phone.