Defenders in the Southeast
Florida Panther,  © SuperStock

Defenders in Action: Living with Wildlife

Defenders is a leader in Florida in providing outreach on living responsibly with wildlife, especially panthers and bears.

How We’re Helping

  • Our team has conducted a series of door-to-door community outreach days, providing information to thousands of residents a year on how to avoid conflicts with wildlife by  carrying out practical, effective actions that protect one’s property, pets and livestock—and therefore our native wildlife. We also give presentations and organize festivals to help people learn to appreciate the value of Florida wildlife and how to avoid potential conflicts.
  • We help purchase and construct livestock enclosures and share the costs for bear-resistant trash containers to prevent attracting wildlife into rural and suburban communities.
  • Defenders serves on a Florida panther depredation workgroup, which works to obtain support from ranchers, local communities, public interest groups, and government agencies for research and policy development. The goal is to eventually produce a proactive coexistence and compensation program, similar to the programs we offer today for wolves and grizzly bears in the west.
  • We are also training a Panther Citizen Assistance Taskforce to help us conduct outreach to residents throughout the state. Our trained recruits help landowners fund and build predator-resistant enclosures to protect livestock and pets at night when panthers and other predators are prone to roam.
  • Our Florida team has coordinated beach clean-ups for coastal residents and other volunteers to collect trash, fishing line and other debris that can harm sea turtles, manatees and other marine wildlife.
  • We also hold training workshops to inform coastal residents and businesses about low impact lighting and other responsible practices to help sea turtles.
More on Defenders in the Southeast: Additional Priorities »

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The latest articles about wildlife issues that may be of interest to those in the press.
Florida Panhandle (Apalachicola National Forest), © Julie Tew
Fact Sheet
The Florida Panhandle is one of the most biologically diverse regions of the world. From dense pine forests, seepage streams and major rivers, to coastal marshes and pristine beaches, it is home to a wide array of key and endangered species, including gopher tortoises, sea turtles, manatees, red-cockaded woodpeckers, eastern indigo snakes, migratory birds and numerous species of fresh water mussels.
Manatees, © Jan Reyniers
Learn More
As manatees search for the warm-water shelters once common along the Florida coast, we take this time to raise public awareness of the threats to these beloved but endangered sea creatures.