San Marco Panther: Actually a Bobcat? A Large Cat? | News

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San Marco Panther: Actually a Bobcat? A Large Cat?
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The reported panther sighting in San Marco has the attention of the state.

Karen Parker with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) said panthers are rare anyway, and those that are seen are usually in South Florida.

Parker said her office has received the same information the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office initially reported this weekend, and said it is "sketchy."

She offered some options.

"From my experience, I'd be willing to bet it was a bobcat," Parker said in an email to First Coast News this morning.

Bobcats are very common in this area.  Also, Parker suggested someone could have simply seen a large domestic cat.

She said she has seen and heard about many reported panther sightings that turned out to be either of those two options.

If it's a panther, she said, it likely would have escaped from a local facility, but there have been no reported escapes.

Parker did qualify her response, though.

"I would never discount what the person saw," she said.  "I wasn't there so I have no idea what was spotted."  She said panther sightings are frequently reported, but are infrequently panthers.

Either way, Parker stresses safety around any animal that could be confused for a panther.

"Don't feed the animal.  Don't attempt to pet or catch it.  Keep children and pets away from wildlife. And if at all possible, attempt to get video or photos of the animal to make identification easier for FWC biologists. If you can get plaster imprints of the tracks, that would help also."

Anyone spotting the animal, which was reported in the area of Hendricks Avenue and LaSalle Street north of the San Marco Square, can call 888-404-3922 to report the sighting.

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