Trappers catch panther spotted in Parkland neighborhood

PARKLAND, FLA. (WSVN) - Trappers have captured a young Florida panther that had put residents of a Parkland neighborhood on edge.

Some residents said they spotted the wild animal in their driveway, Tuesday morning.

Photos taken by neighbors show the panther lying down in the driveway.

Witnesses said the creature then leaped into a backyard.

Word about the sighting spread fast in the neighborhood.

“One of my neighbors posted it, and I said, ‘Wait a minute, I gotta go down and see this,'” said Greg Knights.

“Some lady from the street said it was running around the street,” said area resident Julia Meyer, who said she immediately became worried about area pets.

“Oh, yes. Cats and dogs, put them inside,” she said.

Residents called the Broward Sheriff’s Office, who contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“We were actually surprised by this call,” said FWC Lt. Robert Laubenberger.

In fact, officials weren’t even sure the call was correct. Instead, they thought someone had seen a bobcat or a coyote.

“So, to our surprise, it was a panther,” said Laubenberger.

Trappers loaded a dart into a tranquilizer gun and were able to neutralize the juvenile panther safely in the yard.

7News cameras captured a trapper carrying the unconscious feline.

“That’s a beautiful cat,” said an area resident as the trapper took the panther away.

“I think it’s really cool,” said Knights. “I just wonder how the hell it got here.”

The panther is the official state animal of Florida. While their numbers are up, there are only an estimated 200 or so in the wild.

Laubenberger said there’s a reason why sightings in South Florida are rare.

“You don’t see too many. Actually, a lot of them get killed out in Alligator Alley,” said Laubenberger. “Their main area is actually Collier County, Naples area. It’s kind of rare to see them in Broward County, but we do have the big expanse, the Everglades, that’s right out here.”

Officials believe this endangered panther is 5 or 6 months old and weighs between 50 and 60 pounds.

The animal was seen wearing a collar, so officials said it likely belongs to or once belonged to an owner with a permit.

“It’s nice to see them,” said Laubenberger, “and when we see one this way, hopefully we can get it all ‘rehabbed’ up and actually release it back to the wild or take it to a permanent person.”

The panther was taken to a facility where it will be checked out.

“It’s going to be brought to a permanent place, and we’re going to make sure it’s healthy and all that,” said Laubenberger. “[We’ll] see how we can get the pup back to its full health.”

If the animal has a legally permitted owner, it will be returned there. Otherwise, it will be released into the wild.

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