TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is launching a new Panther Depredation Compensation Pilot Program. This program will provide an effective and efficient process to offset economic losses to Florida’s commercial cattle ranchers who experience panther depredations.
Florida panthers are carnivores that prey primarily on white-tailed deer, wild hogs and other wildlife including medium-sized mammals and birds. As opportunistic hunters, panthers might also prey upon livestock, such as calves that are free ranging or otherwise unsecured. Many large ranches within the state provide quality habitat for native wildlife while maintaining cattle that roam across expansive landscapes, which can make panther depredations difficult to prevent or even detect.
Goals for the FWC’s Panther Depredation Compensation Pilot Program are to minimize procedural requirements and provide prompt compensation to commercial cattle ranchers who experience loss of livestock due to panthers. To be eligible for compensation through the program, suspected panther depredations occurring on commercial operations will require a field visit from FWC staff. During field visits, evidence of panther involvement and the particular circumstances of each situation will be assessed. Even without a carcass, depredations could still result in a payment with adequate supporting evidence of panther involvement.
Cattle ranchers experiencing suspected panther depredation are encouraged to immediately contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922). FWC staff will conduct a site visit to document evidence and assess possible panther involvement. If probable panther involvement is determined, prompt compensation at market rate will follow.
Cattle ranchers, pet owners and hobby farmers living in Florida panther country can learn about available compensation and ways to help prevent conflicts with panthers by visiting MyFWC.com/PantherDepredations.