Peeping predator: Florida panther caught peering through window of home

Florida panthers are extremely rare, mostly seen in Southwest Florida

Courtesy: Vendela Harold (Vendela Harold)

GOLDEN GATE ESTATES, Fla. – A family living in southwest Florida got quite a shock this past weekend, when they were surprised by a wild predator peering in their window, News 6 partner WPLG reports.

The elusive Florida panther snuck up on the homeowner who said she felt like she was being watched.

“All of a sudden I just get this intense feeling of something is staring at me. Really quick I look over and there he is. Just staring me down. Kind of looked like he wanted some popcorn and was enjoying the movie,” said Vendela Harold, who recorded panther in her backyard.

The panther just seemed to want to watch a movie with the family through the sliding glass door of their Golden Gate Estates home.

The family moved to the area less than two months ago.

“He did not look cute and cuddly. He looked like he wanted a snack. If I was outside, I would’ve been scared for my life,” Harold said.

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The video was taken to the experts at Florida Gulf Coast University for their opinion on what the family should do should it happen again.

“The first thing I would do is appreciate the moment. We don’t have that many opportunities to see these charismatic animals so close to home,” said Nora Demers, a biologist.

According to Demers, panthers pose virtually no risk to humans, but small animals like the Harold’s family’s three dogs might be another story.

“Of course, you want to keep your animals under control. They are considered prey for the panthers. Make your surroundings as healthy and safe as you are able to,” Demers said.

Everyone is safe and the panther eventually moved to checking out the front yard and nearby areas.

“I was worried about my dogs. I have three dogs. I didn’t take them out for a few hours after that because I wanted to make sure he was out of the way and was really happy I was inside and not outdoors,” Harold said.

Florida panthers are extremely rare and are mostly seen in Southwestern Florida, where an estimated 200 are still left in the wild.

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About the Author:

Jenise Fernandez joined the Local 10 News team in November 2014. She is thrilled to be back home reporting for the station she grew up watching. Jenise, who is from Miami and graduated from Florida International University, also interned at Local 10 while she was in college.