MYAKKA CITY, FL (WWSB): Reports of a tiger sighting in Myakka City sent Florida Fish and Wildlife officers on the hunt for 'big cats.' Officers searched every inch of Myakka City, but still haven't come across any indication that a tiger is on the loose.
Two officers from FWC patrolled Myakka City all day despite no reported sightings since Thursday night when the search started. A 17-year-old reported seeing large cats, what were believed to be tigers, walking near Crosby Road.
George Staples lives right down the street from the alleged sighting. He was fast asleep when the search began for big cats in his neighborhood.
"I heard helicopters or some kind of aircraft go over," Staples says. "I heard it two or three times, then I didn't hear it anymore."
It wasn't until this morning that Staples realized what was going on.
"It didn't bother me too much because I can see anything coming at me because there's a lot of room out here," Staples explains. "And I can still run. For as old as I am, I can still run."
Four facilities that house big cats in the surrounding areas including Big Cat Habitat have all of their animals accounted for.
"It's very unlikely for three tigers to be walking down a street together because they're solitary animals," Clayton Rosaire of Big Cat Habitat says. "They're off on their own. They're looking for their own space."
Rosaire thinks this was a false sighting.
"When people are nervous and are a little afraid, it's amazing what can look like a big predator," Rosaire explains.
Rosaire thinks it was more likely a coyote, Florida panther, or bobcat, which can all be found on the Suncoast.
If it was something bigger Rosaire says we'd know it.
"You're talking about fields that are full of cattle, horses, ponies, goats... all types of livestock out there," he says. "So if there was a large meat eating predator out there, there would be some type of sign."
FWC will not continue to search for the big cats once the sun sets on Friday.