I got a biologist from Florida Fish and Wildlife to investigate. I wrote in 2011 when it happened:

I’ve chosen the Florida Panther for my endemic vertebrate not so much as a favorite but as something that is personal and topical.

I neither love nor hate the Florida Panther but like the black bear, living deep in the woods in Collier County, Florida near National Park at our south and a Florida Panther National Wildlife Preserve to our east means we encounter much wildlife on a daily basis. Big Cypress National Park, mentioned as one of its breeding grounds, is connected to the Panther Preserve.

The Florida Panther is a regular visitor in our yard. Shown for example is two visits by two different panthers in our driveway, one going down the driveway, and another one coming into our yard a few months away each other.

One animal they like to eat is goat, athough being a top predator they will eat any animal in the local ecosystem. I had a goat named Fred years ago. I learned never to get a male goat again – they smell bad as adults – but we cared for it for 7 years. The cage I built didn’t have a top on it. One morning I’m sitting on the back lanai and Fred is complaining for attention when he gets silent. I didn’t think much of it. But when I went to feed him his lunch, there was something out of horror movie.

I got a biologist from Florida Fish and Wildlife to investigate. I wrote in 2011 when it happened:

“The Panther biologist just stopped by the house and tracked the movements of the panther. I started following him into the woods, then I thought, “Are you CRAZY?” – so I let him do his job. He came back 15 minutes later and asked if I wanted to see fred’s remains. I said, “Nope.” – he hung around for about an hour, chit-chatted about various panther things, gave us some good ideas about improving animal cage design.”  (Kenneth Udut – the Panther Biologist Just Stopped by the House And…, 2011)

But I didn’t fault the panther. We live in its habitat and others are moving in as well.

Inbetween my house and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Preserve is a very large Tomato field and cow pasture owned by a local wealthy family, the Colliers, family of the founders of the county.

They’ve decided to get into the town building business and will be building the “Town of Big Cypress” with three villages within inbetween where I live and the Florida Panther National Wildlife Preserve.

As there is very much a natural pathway for the panther between the preserve and my house, anything being built inbetween will disturb these natural walking paths, restraining the ability of the Florida Panther to live a natural existence.

This caused some great concern among various agencies, who fought very hard to include provisions for the Florida Panther in the new construction upcoming but it was to no avail in the end.

As Bayles on WGCU notes:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that implements the Endangered Species Act, signed-off on the Big Cypress development while admitting more Florida panthers will die each year because of its existence.
That’s because the Bellmar Village portion is to be built within one mile of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, a 26,400-acre unfenced habitat for the endangered animal established more than 30 years ago. (Bayles, 2023)

People driving cars are the main cause of death for the Florida Panther and with more people driving more cars in its habitat, more panther deaths are certain.

The Florida Panther remains on the endangered list and will likely remain there as humans contiue crowding into their habitat. I’m aware that I am part of the problem, adding several more cars to potentially unalive panthers and having a property that’s in its habit zone. We do keep it open without fencing to the wild animals can roam through but we still have an impact. I think being conscious and aware and work on being responsible stewards is the best we can hope for, the best we can do.

Kenneth Udut – The Panther biologist just stopped by the house and… (2011). Facebook.com. https://www.facebook.com/kenneth.udut/posts/pfbid0MBbbSRS9iKfowt9M7kcE7gRUVMVxqPevUJKkbs6bRhJJezZNp4f9XTULEo99MmTXl

Bayles, T. (2023, December 13). Environmentalists: Florida panther will hurtle toward extinction if Town of Big Cypress is allowed. WGCU PBS & NPR for Southwest Florida; WGCU. https://news.wgcu.org/top-story/2023-12-13/environmentalists-florida-panther-will-hurtle-toward-extinction-if-town-of-big-cypress-is-allowed

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