A Florida panther is a subspecies of mountain lion or puma.
During the 1880s, a $5 bounty on the panthers encouraged their eradication, but the war on these cats failed, barely. In 1958 the panther was protected by law, and in 1967 was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1973, when the cat population had shrunk to 60, it was added to the Florida endangered list.
There are now about 150 Florida panthers, most fitted with radio transmitter collars.The panther's diet consists of small animals like rabbits, rodents, waterfowl and sometimes larger animals like storks, white-tailed deer, and wild boar. They will also attack small farm animals like chickens and goats and companion animals like dogs and cats. Never leave an animal tied in an area where you suspect there may be a panther.
There has never been a fatal attack on a human being by a Florida panther.
Since 1909, just 20 people have died as a result of puma attacks anywhere in North America, while there have been more than 60,000 fatal attacks on pumas by humans.. About 62 people die each year from lightning strikes in the US so you're more than 300 times more likely to be killed by lightning than by a cat.
According to animal behavior experts, cats, including puma, are intimidated by any animal that is larger and especially taller, than themselves, and by things that approach rapidly. If you encounter a big cat, try to make it see you as a dominant predator. Showing aggression will often cause a cat to flee.
Big cats are intelligent and very shy of humans. Make eye contact; stare the puma down. Make loud noises and try to look bigger by waving your arms. Do not crouch to pick up a weapon placing your head lower than the cat’s. The showing of teeth, which people interpret as smiling, is seen as a threat by many animals. Grin at the cat.
Prey-sized items, like dogs or children that move rapidly across a cat's field of vision, stimulate it to attack. Tossing a backpack or other item in front of an approaching cat will often distract it. One cougar attack on a child ended when the boy lost a shoe and the cougar focused its attention on that.
Do not run, as nothing triggers this predator's reflex like fleeing. Pick up small children or animals. Placing a child on your shoulders makes you appear taller and more dangerous to a cat.
If you see a big cat feeding, slowly withdraw from the area, while watching it. Don’t turn your back on it.
If a cat attacks you, fight back. Kick it, hit it with branches or rocks and punch it.