Florida panthers, mountain lions, jaguars that become used to human presence can lose their natural wariness of us. If we offer or allow access to food even once, we end up with wildlife that associates us with food.
Although the risk of encountering wildlife is very low, take steps to prevent problems with wildcats and encourage your neighbors to follow the same steps.
Steps to Prevent Problems with Wildcats
Landscape for safety. Remove dense or low-lying vegetation that provides hiding places for Florida panthers, mountain lions, jaguars and other predators near your house. Choose plants that do not attract deer or other prey. The University of Florida provides information about ornamental plants and deer damage . Appropriate fencing will make your yard or play area uninviting to prey animals such as deer.
Consider other deterrents. Outdoor lighting, motion sensors and electric fencing may deter prey animals and large cats from entering your yard and make approaching animals more visible to you.
Drive safely. Obey speed limits and reduce your speed in wildlife areas. Be extra alert during dawn, dusk and at night.
Don’t litter. Human food attracts wildlife and litter thrown from a car attracts wildlife to roadsides.
Be alert from dusk until dawn (and whenever deer are active). Florida panthers, jaguars and mountain lions are primarily active at night. Be aware of your surroundings and supervise children when outdoors in areas where wild cats live.
Keep prey away. Deer, raccoons, rabbits, armadillos and feral hogs are prey for large cats. By feeding deer or other wildlife, people inadvertently may attract carnivores. Do not leave potential wildlife food outside, such as unsecured garbage or pet food. Consider fencing fruit and vegetable gardens.
Keep pets safe. Free-roaming, tethered or unfenced pets and hobby livestock are easy prey for predators. In some communities, it is illegal to let pets roam free. Bring pets inside or keep them in a secure, enclosed kennel at night. Feeding pets outside can attract raccoons and other prey; do not leave uneaten pet food available to wildlife.
Keep domestic livestock safe. Place chickens, goats, sheep, hogs or other livestock in enclosed structures at night. Plans for building predator-proof enclosures for pets or livestock are available at the Mountain Lion Foundation . In addition, electric fencing can be an effective carnivore deterrent.