COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - In the 1970s there was less than two dozen Florida panthers. The endangered cat is making a comeback with 100 to 160 adults. However, that provides new challenges for Florida Fish and Wildlife and Collier residents.
"It's a precious Florida treasure. It's the Florida state animal, but when it's in your backyard, eating your pet, that's a concern," FWC Executive Director Nick Wiley says.
Wiley tells WINK News residents in rural areas like the Golden Gate Estates could see more livestock kills with the increase panther numbers.
"We understand the land owners' concerns. We empathize with that, we want to work with them."
Naples Zoo Director David Tetzlaff says there has to be a balance, "people that live in Golden Gate have a relatively new problem to deal with."
FWC is trying to do more to educate residents how to protect their pets and livestock. One way is with the First Annual Florida Panther Festival. Designed as fun, but aimed to educate, the festival will have livestock pen demonstrations to teach residents how to protect their animals from becoming prey.
There will also be a meeting held by FWC to listen to resident concerns with the Florida panther and other wild animals. It's scheduled for October 6th at the University of Florida agricultural extension office near the Collier County fairgrounds.