Florida panther causes controversy with Collier landowners

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla.- The Florida panther is causing quite the controversy. Homeowners on prime panther land are upset, saying there are more panthers in the area than Florida Fish and Wildlife is reporting.

Landowner Shirley Harner says she’s concerned with the amount of panthers roaming near her home.

“My grandchildren are banned, my husband and I don’t go outside without one watching the other,” said Harner.

Florida Fish and Wildlife says there is a range of 100 to 180 panthers in Florida. However, property owners say they don’t believe these numbers are close to the truth and think there are more panthers than that.

“I’ve blown air horns, I’ve started chain saws, they don’t move.”

FWC has been collecting data consistently for more than 30 years. They say even with the many different methods they use, such as collars and trail cameras, there is no way to be 100 percent sure of the numbers.

Florida wildlife officials say the counts are limited to public lands, not private land. They’d like to partner up with landowners to get a better overall picture by placing cameras on their land at the cost of FWC.

“We would take care of that, using the cameras for that work, because it would benefit us,” said FWC worker Dawn Jennings.

Harner says a lot of her wildlife has died off and she blames the panthers. She also says she’s worried a panther may prey on children.

“You need to tell the truth because a kid is going to be a victim.”

Author: Megan Contreras