What do you do if you see a Florida panther?

Answered by Edward Huber

If you happen to come across a Florida panther, it’s important to remain calm and take the necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if you encounter a Florida panther:

1. Keep children within sight and close to you: When in the presence of a potentially dangerous animal, it’s essential to prioritize the safety of children. Ensure they stay near you and avoid wandering off.

2. Give the panther space: Panthers are wild animals and may feel threatened if you approach too closely. It’s crucial to maintain a safe distance from the panther to avoid provoking any aggressive behavior.

3. Do not run: Running can trigger a predator-prey response in the panther, potentially leading to a chase. Instead, remain calm and slowly back away from the panther while keeping a watchful eye on its movements.

4. Avoid crouching or bending over: Panthers may interpret a crouched or bent-over posture as a sign of vulnerability or potential prey. Stand tall and maintain an upright position to appear larger and more intimidating.

5. Make yourself appear larger: Open your jacket, raise your arms, and spread out your body to make yourself appear more significant than you actually are. This may intimidate the panther and discourage it from approaching you.

6. Throw objects: If you have any stones, branches, or other objects nearby, toss them in the direction of the panther. This can startle the animal and create a deterrent.

7. If attacked, fight back: In the unfortunate event that a panther attacks, you must do whatever it takes to defend yourself. Use any objects within reach as weapons and aim for sensitive areas like the eyes and nose. Do not turn your back to the panther, as this may trigger further aggression.

It’s important to note that encounters with Florida panthers are relatively rare, as they are elusive and typically avoid human contact. However, being prepared and knowing how to react can greatly reduce the risk of harm in such situations. Stay informed about local wildlife regulations and always respect the natural habitat of these beautiful creatures.