Rare spotting of Florida panther in Fernandina Beach neighborhood

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. — A local man said he spotted a panther in his Fernandina Beach neighborhood.

“It was probably somewhere between 175-230 pounds, probably somewhere between 6 feet long in length,” said Daniel Coffey.

Coffee said he recently spotted a panther on Majestic Walk Boulevard.


“I saw something run in front of the truck, it was kind of dark out, it was a blur,” he said. Coffee then slowed down.

“It got about 30 feet from me, heading towards the woods and it stopped, and it stayed there for about a half minute or minute,  and it was staring back at me,” Coffee said.

Coffee said he didn’t take a picture of it because it happened too quickly, and it was too dark.

“I was kind of in shock. We’ve been up here for a little over a year, and I didn’t know we had them up here,” he said.

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According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, it’s rare to find a panther in Northeast Florida.

FWC said only about 120-230 adult panthers exist; a majority of them are in Southwest Florida.

Young males in search of their own territories have been documented in other parts of Florida, but most of the breeding population remains in South Florida.

However, FWC said in 2008, a male panther wandered into Western Georgia, where he was shot and killed.

“There’s a lot of kids that play around and people walking their dogs so It kind of made me nervous to see it,” said Coffee.

Whatever it is, Coffey said he just wants his neighbors to be on the lookout.