I received a text yesterday from a neighbor who had a photo from another neighbor of a possible panther in our neighborhood.
Now, I’ve known since I moved here that my neighborhood, which borders on the CREW Project, had possible panther activity. It’s the reason I purchased a game camera at last year’s silent eco-auction, and I take note of panther sightings posted on our neighborhood Facebook page Seeing a Florida panther in the wild is on my wildlife bucket list, so I would much rather prefer to see one a the CREW Marsh Trails than in my backyard but – any panther sighting would make my heart race with sheer joy.
Why? Besides the fact that panthers are one of our two big cat species, they are also endangered – and seeing them and reporting them is an important part of citizen science.
- Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) are an Endangered Species.
- Counting panthers is difficult because they are solitary, elusive and wide-ranging animals rarely observed in the wild. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) panther biologists estimate there are 120-230 adults and yearlings in Florida.
- Reporting your observations can help FWC biologists address panther conservation needs by identifying the areas used by these large cats.
I learned last year during a hike that many people don’t know that, if you see a panther, you should report it online to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. So, if you do see a panther – first up, congratulations, and second, here are the steps to report this rare sighting.
- Snap a photo if you can of either the panther or its tracks.
- Using Google maps or your compass on your phone, take note of the latitude and longitude of the the sighting. You can drop a pin on your location on the Google Maps app to mark where you saw the panther and check that pin later for your GPS coordinates.
- Go to myfwc.com to report the sighting.
- Enter the latitude and longitude on the form or drag the red pin onto the map on the web page to mark the location.
- Enter the date of the sighting along with your information and any notes.
- Upload a photo if you have one.
- Submit your sighting.
And, if you happened to spot the panther at one of the CREW Trail Systems, let us know! We’d love to share your panther story.