Enclosure, © Defenders of Wildlife

Safety Pens Mean Peace of Mind in Panther Country

Defenders helps Florida family build a predator-resistant livestock enclosure for goats and other pets

People need to take precautions to keep their pets safe in predator habitat. For Floridians who live alongside Florida panthers, coexistence means finding ways to protect both their beloved pets and these critically endangered cats. Building an enclosure is a great solution, especially for backyard animals like chickens, ducks and goats.

Earlier this year, Defenders’ Florida office received a call from Naples, FL, residents Brad and Maureen Knoll. They had learned about our predator-resistant enclosure program while attending presentations I’d made at several southwest Florida libraries about Florida panthers and bears, and how people can safely and easily coexist. The Knolls had decided it was time to build a safe enclosure for their two adopted goats, Frick and Frack, to use at night, and were working proactively as responsible pet owners to protect their animal family.

Frack and pen, © Lisa Östberg

Frack supervises as we set up his new pen.

I met with the Knolls at their home and we determined how best to proceed. Shortly thereafter, we ordered materials for a heavy-duty pen made of pre-fabricated, welded-wire panels. We were all excited to receive the materials so Frick and Frack’s safety could be ensured. Unfortunately, before we received the pen from the manufacturer, little Frick was killed by a Florida panther. I quickly took action to move an enclosure we use for exhibiting at festivals and regional fairs to the Knoll’s house so Frack would be safe until his permanent pen arrived.

When it did, the Knolls, along with volunteers from Defenders of Wildlife, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service worked together to build a strong, permanent (yet portable) night structure for Frack. Since we built his pen, Frack has adjusted to losing his brother, but has also become a brother again, as the Knolls have adopted two more goats and a burro! All the animals are using their pen, happily entering it each night knowing that they will be given treats when they go in, and perhaps knowing they are safe from our many other predators, which can include Florida panthers, coyotes, bobcats and unrestrained dogs.

Frack and burro, © Brad Knoll

Frack with one of his new brothers.

The Knolls are very happy with the enclosure and regularly send me photos of their “kids” playing together and using it. I’m very proud to have been part of Defenders’ important efforts to help animal owners demonstrate that it is completely possible to coexist with local predators. Here’s to hoping little Frack and his new brothers will live a long, SAFE and happy life with his terrific family!

Lisa Östberg, Southwest Florida Coexistence Coordinator




3 Responses to “Safety Pens Mean Peace of Mind in Panther Country”

  1. elizabeth see

    Hi, I would like to paint that goat, Do I have your permission to use your photo as a reference for my painting?

    • Lisa Östberg

      Elizabeth, of course you may use Frack as a model for a painting. Please share a photo when you’re through… I’d love to see it!

  2. gregory cleary

    yes it is good , but so sad that there are very few panthers left in Florida . That state is so built up its ridicules’ there’s hardly no country left in Florida. such a sad state for the panther.

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