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Capt. Wes Rozier

Pensacola, FL, U.S.A.

Endorsed by 941 people

Hi! I’m Captain Wes Rozier, “Fisherman Extraordinaire”. Yes, the same fisherman you have seen and read about in the Florida Sportsman September 2002 issue, the Gulf Coast Outdoors February 2003 issue and the Gulfcoast Boating and Fishing August 2000 issue just to name a few.

I will guide you over a grass flat in search of a Gator Trout. We will work the mud flats for a “Doormat” flounder. We will look for tailing red fish as they move along the shoreline.

If you are into “Fun Fishing” there are many species of fish to catch as well and at the end of the day you too will be a “Fisherman Extraordinaire”.

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Endorsed by 941 people.

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Growing Florida panther population can lead to increased interactions with people

The Florida panther is an example of a conservation success story. However, this success has resulted in challenges.

Over the past few decades, the panther population has grown significantly. There were only 20 to 30 adult panthers in the 1970s. Today, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) estimates the population at 120 to 230 animals. As the population grows, the chance for interaction between panthers and humans also increases – which can be bad for both people and panthers.

At one time, reports of panther sightings were rare. Today, panthers are being seen with increasing frequency, particularly in Collier County. In addition to sightings, there has been an increase in panthers killing pets and livestock.

Panthers typically prey on a variety of wildlife such as deer, wild hogs, raccoons, armadillos and rabbits. Unfortunately, they sometimes prey on domesticated animals such as goats, sheep, calves and even pets. When a panther or other wild animal preys upon or injures a pet or domestic livestock it is called a depredation.

The FWC investigates reports of panther depredations on pets and livestock, and works with residents to reduce these incidents. In 2016, FWC staff verified more than 40 panther depredation events. Most of these occurred in the residential community of Golden Gate Estates in Collier County.

The Estates are bordered by the Picayune Strand State Forest to the south, the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge to the east and the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed to the north. All of these public lands support panthers. The Estates cover over 100 square miles, and contain large areas of native habitat that are used by wildlife including bears, coyotes and panthers. In addition, many residents in the Estates keep small livestock on their property, which can appear to be easy prey for predators. 

“People can help protect pets and backyard animals by taking precautions,” said FWC panther team leader Darrell Land. “The best way to protect small livestock from any predator is to keep the animals in a secure, fenced enclosure with a roof, especially at night. Also, pets like dogs and cats should be kept indoors at night or, if kept outside, then in a secure kennel with a roof.”

Reports of dangerous encounters with panthers are very rare in Florida. However, panthers are large, powerful predators, and people should use caution if they see one. Here are some tips to avoid a negative interaction if you encounter a panther:

    Give the panther space. Most Florida panthers will avoid confrontation. Give them a way to escape.
    Do not run. Stand and face the animal. Make eye contact.
    Avoid crouching or bending over, as it makes you look smaller, resembling a prey-sized animal.
    If attacked, fight back with whatever is at hand without turning your back.
 Ok when you go for that evening walk and you hear some cat like sounds in the woods...run like hell!!!!!!

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