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Endangered panther found sleeping outside SW Florida home, startles neighbors

Florida panther found asleep near home front door
Florida panther found asleep near home front door 01:38

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. -- Residents of a southwest Florida neighborhood were startled when they spotted a 61-pound panther in their community this week.

Angie and DJ Ohl were sitting inside their house in the Bonita National neighborhood in Bonita Springs Wednesday morning when they saw what looked like a crime scene in their driveway

"All of a sudden neighbors and police started yelling for me to close the door and run back in the house," said Ohl.

Little did they know a rare Florida panther was sleeping in their bushes.

"My wife . . . I think she opened the gate and did not know it was sitting right there," DJ Ohl said. "She was probably dangerously close to it and didn't even know it."

One of the Ohl's neighbors says he was on a walk when he spotted the panther. He called 911 and the Florida Wildlife Commission.

"They came up here and were able to tranquilize it and it ran across the street and they got it they pulled it up with a tarp over that way and took it away," said Ohl.

Wildlife experts say there are fewer than 200 Florida panthers alive today.

The FWC says the last confirmed Florida panther sighting in Bonita Springs was in 2015.

 "They're around here but you don't expect them camping out your front door," said Angie Ohl.

The Florida panther is back in its natural habitat.

FWC says the panther is 61 pounds and healthy.

She was dropped off in a 60 thousand-acre preserve near the honors national neighborhood Wednesday afternoon.

 "I'm just thankful he goes somewhere safe and lives the rest of his life or her! I don't know what it is was it a she? Alright," said Ohl.

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