A panther is roaming a southwest Florida neighborhood and may be responsible for the disappearance of one dog and the death of another. But the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has ceased efforts to capture it, which has some residents a little peeved.
Residents of the Golden Gate Estates say they're concerned for their pets and children. One man says the panther attacked and killed his Chihuahua last week.[jump]
The FWC says it laid out a few traps to nab the panther but, after observing it for several days, decided to stop trying to catch the wild cat.
Basically, the animal would have to be showing signs of threatening behavior for the FWC to act. Panthers don't like the taste of people meat, generally, so they tend not to stalk and prey on humans.
But residents in the area are concerned about having a Florida panther walking around their hood like it's all good.
Many have called in reporting seeing the panther walking around the neighborhood and appearing in their yards.
"As soon as my neighbor told me, I decided not to let my kids ride their bikes up and down because you never know," said one resident.
Mark Lotz, a wildlife biologist, says that panthers killing animals is, well, their M.O., seeing that they're wild animals and all. But that people shouldn't necessarily feel threatened.
"Panthers killing animals is normal behavior and something that isn't viewed as a public safety concern," Lotz said. "This panther isn't doing anything unusual. He's not acting abnormal in any way, so there's really no cause for concern besides his location."
Last week, Nickie Koch says he heard whimpering sounds outside of his home, where his dog had been running around.
Koch says he ran outside and saw his beloved dog, Buddy, in the jaws of the panther. The panther then disappeared with the dog.
This is what has parents worried, the fear being the panther could confuse a young child for a small animal.
For now, the FWC will leave it alone. And odds are that the panther won't attack any humans and will likely eventually wander back into the wild.