Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Back in Black (Panthers)

Once again I find myself in the position of feeling like I need to apologize for my lengthy absence from the blog. I have been in the final stages of finishing up my upcoming book on the black panther phenomenon and it has been a bit time consuming. The whole process has been fascinating and enjoyable but the book process has consumed almost all of my free time for the past year. Finally, I am done and the book is tentatively due to be out by the end of January. The book is called Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. I must admit that I am pretty excited about it.

It should be noted that reports of black panthers never stopped rolling in to me; I just had precious little extra time to post or chart them. I aim to begin the process of rectifying that situation now. Below are some of the latest black panther sighting reports to be sent my way. As always, I need to clarify that science does not recognize the existence of such a cat. The black panthers in the movies and on television are almost all melanistic leopards with a few melanistic jaguars thrown in for good measure. The term black panther is a descriptor used by Texans and southerners to describe any large, black, long-tailed cat, whatever they may be. Now on to the reports.

Reported 10/22/17

“Rhome, TX 10/20/2017
I was driving on FM 3433 towards 287 and a large cat ran across the road about 100 yards in front of me. What caught my attention was the huge 3-4 foot long tail, about 6” in diameter. He was brown/black spotted weighing about 150-175 pounds. It was too far away for my dashcam to get a clear picture. It just looks like a large shadow crossing the road. Freaked me out so I called the Rhome police. They told me I saw a bobcat. I explained the long tail. He said he would check it out. I called the big cat sanctuary to see if one of their cats was out. He told me I saw a feral cat. Then I called Wise County game warden and he totally blew me off. Said I saw a bobcat and if there really was a big cat out there like that he would have heard reports about it.
I’m so glad to hear other reports out there. I know what I saw was no bobcat or feral cat. It had markings like a cloud leopard.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Rhome sits in Wise County northwest of Fort Worth. The sighting location was just to the northeast of Eagle Mountain Lake, an 8,694 acre reservoir formed by the damming of the west fork of the Trinity River. While the area is situated very close to the Fort Worth area there remains quite a bit of open farmland and undeveloped property, especially back to the west of Rhome. Besides the previously mentioned Eagle Mountain Lake, Elizabeth Creek and multiple smaller private lakes and stock ponds can be found in the area. While this event occurred a bit closer to urban areas than most sightings do, it should not be discounted on that basis alone. The description of the cat as looking like a “cloud leopard” is interesting. I can understand why officials might have believed the witness saw a bobcat as they can exhibit markings similar to those of clouded leopards; however, if the witness is correct about the long tail, the bobcat must be eliminated as a possibility. The witness mentions that he called a “big cat sanctuary” to see if they were missing any big cats. While I’m not sure a facility would share information of that nature with a civilian, there are two such sanctuary/rescues in the area: the International Exotic Animal Sanctuary in Boyd and the Center for Animal Research and Education in Bridgeport. I do not know if either facility houses a clouded leopard or a snow leopard but I suppose it is not out of the realm of possibility that an escaped exotic from such a facility, or a private owner, could be responsible. I simply do not know quite what to think about this sighting. In any case, it does not fit the criteria to be placed on my Black Panther Sightings Distribution map so I will just keep my ears open for any additional sightings of cats that match this description.


Reported 10/26/17

“Hello!
I found your website after doing some research.  This morning as I was leaving for work I spotted a large black cat along my back fence.  I live on a little more than an acre that backs up to a ranch.  There is also a creek nearby and plenty of brush.  I don’t know much about wildlife so I reached out to some neighbors.  Bobcat came up a couple of times and neighbor mentioned something called a jaguarundi.  (Probably didn’t spell that right.) I am attaching a picture that is NOT my own but is the closest thing I can find to what I saw.  It’s pretty much dead on identical except mine was ever so slightly smaller. (I’m assuming scale by saying that.)  It was “slinky” for lack of a better word but muscled and if it wasn’t jet black (which I couldn’t tell from 100 yards away) then it was very black with spots or stripes that I couldn’t see.  It had a long tale and moved very slowly.  Any further thoughts on what this might be?  I have small dogs and worry about them being outside.  Also, do you think these animals are solo or roam in packs?”

- Beth Milam

TCH Comment: This sighting occurred in the Brazos Valley near the College Station area. The Brazos Valley has been the origin of a good number of black panther reports. The photo which the witness refers to as a comparison is a still taken from a video shot in Iberia Parish, Louisiana several years ago (This incident and photo are featured in my upcoming book: Shadow Cats, The Black Panthers of North America). The witness does not give an exact location for the sighting so I cannot map it. Neither does she mention a size estimate other than calling the cat “large.” While a jaguarundi is a possibility, the fact the witness was able to clearly see the cat at an approximate distance of 100 yards leads me to believe that the animal seen was larger than that species typically gets. Beth, if you see this post, please contact me with a little more detail as to the location as I would like to include the sighting on my sightings distribution map. Finally, to answer the final question of the witness, typically jaguars or cougars (if either species is what this cat indeed was) do not run together in groups. There have been a few documented cases of groups of mountain lions running together but this is rare. When this occurs it is almost certainly a nearly grown cub still traveling with its mother. In extremely rare instances, “cubs” up to two years-old hang around long enough to be seen with their mother and a very young cub from a more recent litter. Again, this is not common.


Reported 11/2/17

“Tuesday late afternoon, about 5:30 pm my daughter was hiking along the northern and eastern Wperimeter of our farm laced with pecan orchards and groves , the older groves being almost 90 years old trees. there is an abundance of hardwood forests and black locust thickets where deer and other wildlife abound and our herd of Arabians . She was hiking down to check the wild hog trap and see deer. Our 300 acres is a pie shaped wedge that’s bounded along the entire southern end by the Sabine in Hunt County . She was heading south along the eastern border (another river borders it on the east , a creek) and she heard an odd sound , thinking it was wild hogs, she turned around and saw a large black cat , larger than our Anatolian Shepherd dog with a long black tail. She said she froze and it was about 8 feet up the tree , climbing up . it stopped climbing and began to climb down and about half way down bounded the rest of the way off the tree , heading southeast to the river , about 60 yards away. My daughter is reliable, has excellent vision, calm and gives accurate honest reports. I went today and inspected the tree. there was, as she reported fresh bark off the tree about the distance one would expect between claws. I could only surmise it was looking for deer, in an area with lots, and also perhaps clawing on the tree , as cats sharpening their claws do , She said this is the sound she heard and it appeared to be doing this as she quietly turned around to look at the sound . she very first thought, seeing black, of a large size half way up a tree, that this might be one of the black bears occasionally sighted in the piney woods, but then she saw its tail and the entire cat as it climbed down and bounded off.

15 or 16 years ago, My brother who is an archery hunter of moose, elk, bear and white tail here saw a big black cat. Enormous , he said, cross our county road as he was driving around 11 pm at night. He is extremely reliable and is as close as a modern day Daniel Boone as one gets. A shame it was so fast as he is a remarkable wildlife photographer.

We are surrounded by 500 acres to 800 acre wild tracts of land along the Sabine in east Hunt County - replete with wildlife 4 of us have sighted mountain lions in the past 5 years, all tawny on our land or the neighbors adjoining. this one was huge and black. Our Anatolian is about 3.3 feet at the shoulder and 4.5 foot head to rump 85 to 95 pounds. slim. The cat she said seemed heavier built and maybe a bit longer when it jumped than our dog.

We’d love to set up a live trap and get some good pictures. Please reach out and bring your game camera ... maybe we can get a goat to use (not to kill, just to be in the trap ) for photos.”

- Kkamomma1

TCH Comment: Hunt County is located in northeast Texas in an area rich in water and food resources. While part of the Piney Woods sub-region of Texas, fruit-bearing hardwood trees thrive here as well, meaning a prey base of deer and hogs would do quite well. It is an area with a history of black panther sightings. Kkamomma1, I would like to discuss the possibility of putting up a game camera or two on the property. Please contact me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com if you are still interested. If the estimate of size given by the witness is correct, the cat in question would have to be a cougar or jaguar. No other New World cat approaches the size described. I will be adding the sighting to my sightings distribution map.


Reported 11/7/17

“Mike

I just listened to your interview on Inception Radio and that to share my experience.

Mid to late 1980’s, I was on a deer stand looking down a ravine on a cutover.  I heard the dogs start on a chase and prepared for the deer that I heard coming up the hill.  What I saw, numbed me momentarily, 30 feet away, a huge solid black cat bounded across my window of opportunity. Before my senses returned, he was gone.  I promptly reported to the next game warden i saw and he said impossible, we don’t have any such animals in Alabama.  I told him I should have dropped the cat, to which he said he would have arrested me.  Three other club members had seen the cat within a 3-4 year span. I along with a few more had seen a tan mountain lion over the years along the land bordering the Coosa River in Shelby County Alabama. 

Thanks for your work and hope the conservation people will finally admit to such cats.”

- Perry Edwards

TCH Comment: Perry, thank you for taking the time to send in your account. Black panther reports out of the Deep South are not uncommon and I detail many of them in my forthcoming book on the topic. Since the sighting took place outside of Texas I won’t be adding it to my sightings distribution map. Still, the sighting is anecdotal evidence that sighting of large, black, long-tailed cats is not strictly a Texas phenomenon.

Reported 11/7/17

“They say there's no such animal as a black panther because it is just a normal panther with a melanin disorder causing the fur to be darker, like a jaguar can be all black but it isn't a panther. Up north we call them mountain lions or cougar, but they can definitely have darker colors, the name black panther doesn't exist in the world of the big cat because it is just a black colored jaguar or cougar. But down south y'all call cougar panthers, so black panther. But it is more common for jaguar to be black, like I said it is a melanin disorder that causes the dark coloration but it is normal and entirely possible these sightings were jaguar and not panther.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: While this is not a sighting report the reader brings up a point I would like to address. I have said many times that science does not recognize the existence of “black panthers.” The term is a colloquialism used to describe any big, black cats with long tails here in Texas and the American South. No melanistic cougar has ever been officially documented. Jaguars do exhibit melanism on occasion. These are really the only two species of New World cat large enough to fit the description given by most witnesses who claim to have seen a black panther-sized cat.


Reported 11/7/17

“A black panther does not exist. What people of the South refer to as a panther is a cougar though cougar have many names, they are usually buff colored but a melanin disorder can cause darker fur. The black cat in the sightings is almost definitely a black jaguar, which are more common in central and South America, but the melanin disorder is most commonly found in jaguar. Which could be where the confusion is because yes they look like a "black panther" but scientifically, and as far as any official or zoologist is concerned, does not exist. Like I said, melanin disorder, dark coloring of the pelt, same breed though so it is just a normal panther/cougar or a jaguar.”

- Ashley Noonan

TCH Comment: I am guessing this comment and the one above it are both attributable to Ashley Noonan as they so closely mirror one another (maybe the first try did not seem to go through so Ashley tried again?). In any event, please see my reply to the previous post/comment.


Reported 11/14/17

“Kemp tx 11/11/2017 got a game camera picture on my ranch of a big black cat.”

- Lamar D. Garland

TCH Comment: Kemp sits in Kaufman County southeast of Dallas and not too far north of Cedar Creek Reservoir. It is in an area from which sightings have been reported before. Lamar, I would like to see that photo. If you are willing to share it with me, email it to Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. I will hold off on adding this sighting to my distribution map until (if) I get a look at that photo.


Reported 11/15/17

“I live in Burnet County on 40 acres. Each neighbor on both sides have 50 acres but they live in town. My parents were driving down our 1/2 mile private road and saw a large black cat that looked at least 50 lbs. It jumped over our neighbor’s fence and stole something black from an eagle (his dinner). Then jumped back over the fence and was gone. I spoke to my other neighbor today, she said her neighbors have seen it too!!”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Burnet County sits in central Texas on the Edwards Plateau. It is in the region typically recognized as the beginning of the Texas Hill Country; a region rich in black panther reports. A 50 lb. cat is clearly larger than a jaguarundi but smaller than would be expected of a mountain lion. The witness does not mention whether or not a tail was visible. Bobcats can reach 50 lbs., though that is on the large size for the species, and exhibit melanism on occasion. Is it possible this is what the witness saw? Since the description lacks any information on a tail, for the moment, I will be leaving the sighting off my distribution map. I have no reason to believe the witness is not being truthful but would like to be reassured the cat seen did exhibit a long tail prior to charting the sighting.


Reported 11/16/17

“We just moved to the Crystal Cove community in Lake o the Pines in Jefferson TX. We have three dogs, an adult, an 11 months and 2 months old puppy. We have a fenced area for them. In the past couple of days the dogs seem afraid to be outside. I’m home all day and they’re very few people around. I feel I’m being watched when I’m outside. Any new sightings reported recently in this area? One neighbor is 100% sure we have panthers here.”

- Arlean

TCH Comment: Arlean, there are no fresh mountain lion or black panther sightings that I am aware of in your immediate area, but I have no doubt cougars are in those woods. Having said that, there are any number of reasons your dogs might be acting nervous. Bobcats, coyotes, and, according to some east Texas residents, wolves could be to blame. Depending on the size of your dogs, even a fox could be responsible. Just keep a close eye on those pups and all should be fine. You might consider investing in a game camera to post on your property. It might help you figure out what is roaming around your place at night.


Reported 12/8/17

“I was with a buddy on his ranch near Falfurrias, TX. We were driving down the ranch road at night and a bobcat sized black, slender cat ran across the road with some small animal in its mouth. It didn't look like a house cat or even a bobcat. It looked like some kind of puma or something.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Falfurrias is a lightly populated town in lightly populated Brooks County in deep south Texas. It is right on the edge of the accepted range of both the mountain lion and the jaguarundi. The area is close enough to the Mexican border that the occasional jaguar could be crossing the Rio Grande and roaming the area. Like the report earlier, it is not clear whether or not the cat seen had a long tail. The cat is referred to as “bobcat-sized.” If no tail was visible, it was likely just that; a bobcat. If the tail was long and visible then I will need to revisit the sighting. In the meantime, I will not be placing the sighting on my distribution chart.


Reported 12/10/17

“I will on the southeast corner of Rockwall county in a somewhat wooded area surrounded by corn field to our north and cattle pasture to our south. Late September my sons and I were driving home around 8:30 and a midsize cat ran across our black top road about 12 feet in front of my car. I knew it wasn't a bobcat-seen those before a lot. This cat had a large head and ears that seemed down and not pointed up, also a long tail. I would say it's span was 4-5 feet long and about 2 feet tall. Not sure what color it was as I really just saw the animals silhouette.
A few days ago my neighbor said he saw what he knew was a black cat plain as day that stretched 8-9 feet long in full stride and 3 feet in height. It also ran across the black top road. He has a lot of wooded area where there's a small stream by his place. Wondering if there's a pack roving back there. I would love to get a game camera set up to find out.
I obviously ran across your site when searching for black cats on Texas and find everyone's posts very interesting. Growing up my grandfather had acres of land in Delta county in the boonies on the east side of the county. He swore there was a black panther behind his pond as he could hear them screaming like women at night and I'm pretty sure he spotted the cat (whatever type it was) once or twice before. If I get any more info from Rockwall county however I will let you know.
Thanks.”

- Joni

TCH Comment: Rockwall County is in northeast Texas just east of Lake Ray Hubbard. While urban sprawl continues to creep that way, the eastern edges of the county remain surprisingly rural. If the cat in question really was 4-5 feet long it was no bobcat. Multiple black panther and mountain lion reports have come out of this area. I do not doubt the witness saw what they described but since she could not definitively say what color the cat was I will not be charting the incident on my black panther distribution map. Neither will I be charting the other two anecdotal reports as they are secondhand in nature. That is not a knock on Joni (the witness); I just want to maintain a high standard on charted reports.


Reported 12/27/17

“My Husband, son and sister saw a large black cat walking along the fence line in Sulphur Bluff, TX. It was Early December 2017. I contacted a local Sheriff Deputy that we know and asked if there had been any other sightings and he said yes. We live in the Sulphur River Bottom..75481.”

- Lori

TCH Comment: The Sulphur River has long been associated with sightings of cryptid cats and other…mysterious animals. The area is sparsely populated, wooded, and has ample water and food resources. It could very easily support a small population of large cat. I would recommend placing a game camera on the property in the hopes of capturing photographic evidence.


Reported 12/30/17

“Shot this video yesterday in Stephens county Texas. Was trying to figure out what it was and came across your site

This is at at least 40 yards with a crappy iphone video.

My guess is cat was 2.5 feet long plus a 2 foot tail. At least 35 lbs. My guess is closer to 45-50. The grass in the video is easy knee high.

Been an avid outdoorsman for 50 years. Looked at tens of thousand of trail cam pics. This was pretty shocking.

But I do know for a fact this critter was at least 35 lbs. minimum and that’s giving him a lot of credit for a super heavy coat.
I really think this animal could easily have weighed 50 lbs. He was one and half the size of any bobcat I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot of those

I apologize for the coarse language. I didnt even realize I was talking to myself

Appreciate any thoughts.”

- Kapt Jack




TCH Comment: Stephens County sits in north-central Texas west of Fort Worth. Three major bodies of water (Possum Kingdom Lake, Hubbard Creek Lake, and Lake Daniel can be found in the county. It is very rural with lots of room for a cat to live virtually undetected. The video is interesting. If the witness is correct and he was approximately 40 yards away from the subject then this is a pretty big cat. If he was off in his estimation of distance, the cat could be significantly smaller. The witness is adamant that the cat weighed at least 35 lbs., possibly more. This would seem to rule out a jaguarundi or domestic/feral; however, the cat looks like a domestic/feral to me. The head shape is especially telling. There is strong anecdotal evidence that domestic/feral cats in Australia are growing to unusually large sizes; some the size of small leopards. I go into this in detail in my upcoming book (Ok, sorry, no more plugs). If domestic/ferals in Australia are growing to unusually large sizes there is really no reason the same thing could not occur here in the U.S. Maybe these cats are growing larger in order to fill a niche left vacant by larger cats and wolves hunted to the brink of extirpation?

Have you seen a black panther or some other unusual or out of place animal? If so, please email me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Panther Photo Publication Notice/Request

Getting ready to send in the final revision of my book on the black panther phenomenon to the publisher. If you have ever sent in a photo and do not want it included please let me know ASAP. On the flip side, if you have sent in a photo and want to make sure you are properly credited let me know that, too.

If you have a picture you think is good enough for publication and would like me to consider it, it is pretty much now or never,

Monday, July 31, 2017

Fresh Black Panther Sightings Reported

Following are the latest credible black panther sightings that have been reported to me. As I have said on numerous occasions, I am fully aware that there is not supposed to be any such animal as a black panther. Still, the sightings keep rolling in to me on a monthly basis. Check out the reports below and decide for yourself whether or not there might be a cat matching the classic description of a black panther out there.

Reported 7/29/17

"Able to observe this ‘black panther’ for sometime and make positive identification. Approximately 70 pounds, distinctive round yellow eyes, rounded ears, 2 feet approximately at shoulder, long thicker tail, very dark showing some signs of chocolate consistent with some sun bleaching of a black coat. Grapevine Texas Dallas metro. July 29, 2017." 

Melinda Brown


TCH Comment: If everything Melinda reports is factual – and there is no reason to think it is not – then there are only a couple of possibilities when it comes to the identity of this cat. It would have to be either a jaguar or a cougar; at approximately 70 lbs. it is likely too big to be anything else. The color described would seem to make a cougar very unlikely. Could a jaguar find its way that far north? Interestingly, an account from Saginaw, which is approximately 15 miles to the southeast of Grapevine, came in just four days before this one (see below). Could these witnesses have seen the same cat?



Reported 7/27/17

"I live in Bee County, TX. I was sitting outside with my husband around 2 a.m. this morning. We live outside of town but in a neighborhood. Across the street in my neighbor’s yard I saw something black walking. I got up from my porch swing and pointed it out to my husband. At that time it climbed the neighbors shed. It was a huge cat, appeared to be black with a long tail. I screamed ‘black panther’ and we ran inside. He saw it too. We called police just to scan the area but they never showed. They must think I'm crazy but I'm alerting my neighbors I am scared now." 

Anonymous


TCH Comment: Bee County is in south Texas near the coast. It is not far from the accepted range of the elusive jaguarundi; however, the cat described here seems far too large to be a member of that species. Mountain lion sightings are not unusual in south Texas so that must be considered a possibility in this case. The cat is described as huge and black. From the reaction of the witness, I believe she saw something big; however, since the sighting took place at 2:00 a.m. I have questions as to how well lit the area was and how she could be sure she was not seeing a cat in shadow which could make it appear black. If these questions can be answered, I will add this sighting to my distribution map but, until such a time, I will leave it off.




Reported 7/25/17

"Greetings! I came across your blog and just had to see what you think about what I saw this weekend. I was visiting my brother off of business 287 and Bonds Ranch Road (near Saginaw or Hicks Airfield).  At about 6:45 Sunday morning, the dogs next door starting barking at something outside the fence.  Full pasture land across the road. I took the still shot of large black cat (has tail). If you zoom in to center of stillshot (upper right of tail end of dog) you can see cat on outside of iron fence. It continued down to the neighborhood entrance and that is where I shot the video. Distance from me to entrance is approximately 200 feet. We are curious what your thoughts are?? Much too large for domestic cat IMO. Any comments are much appreciated!"

Anonymous


TCH Comment: Saginaw is a suburb of Fort Worth in Tarrant County. The county has been the source of numerous black panther reports over the years. The photo included, at first glance, is unimpressive; however, if one stops and takes into account the size of the dog in the foreground (large breed) and the estimated distance of 200 feet between the photographer and the cat, it must be concluded that the animal is pretty big. It is too far away to glean much in the way of details but it was a substantial cat. I will add this sighting to my sightings distributions map.



Reported 7/12/17

"My brother used to work for a school in Elysian Fields in NE Texas. He told me that he saw a very large black panther twice when he was going to work there. He was certain it was a jaguar." 

Anonymous


TCH Comment: Elysian Fields is a small unincorporated community in Harrison County in far northeast Texas. The area has been a source of black panther reports for years. The report is basic and simple, however, since it is a secondhand account I will, for now, leave it off my sightings distribution map.



Reported 6/7/17

"I am working on a survey crew along the Brazos River, just south of Simonton in Fort Bend County. One of my co-workers stumbled upon a sleeping large black cat (4-5 feet long and German Shepherd height) in heavy underbrush. The cat rose to its feet and apparently just stared at him as he tried to back away without panicking. The landowner adjacent to this property confirmed that this was the male of a couple that also had newborns recently. Many other locals have sighted the same animals and we have repeatedly seen the track and scat of a large feline while surveying over the past 2 weeks."

Anonymous


TCH Comment: Fort Bend County sits in southeast Texas not far from Houston. The Brazos River forms the western border of the county and the area has been the source of black panther sightings before. The account is very interesting and the cat described fits the general description of an animal many southeast Texans have reported over the years. If photos of the tracks are available please send them to me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.



Reported 6/5/17

"I live in Blue Texas a very rural community north east of Elgin. When I first moved here in the fall of 2015, my husband (who grew up on this property ) was regularly warning me about the "black cats" living in the woods and creek bed behind our house. He described them as being larger than our chocolate lab, jet black with large yellow eyes, silently stalking him from the underbrush along side the hiking trails. I repeatedly informed him that there are no animals in this part of the world that fit that description, that it was probably just a bobcat with darker than usual markings, that scared him and childhood imagination turned it in to his monster in the woods.

In the spring of 2016, I was coming home from a night shift around 4am. As I turned in to my parking space and there were 2 large yellow eyes staring at me from the bushes to large and far apart to be a possum or raccoon, the dog is in the house, coyote maybe. So, I honked at it, then a dark gray cat that stood between 3 and 4 feet tall, and around 6 ft long including the tail that was almost as long as it's body darted across the yard and in to the woods. Told myself I need to get more sleep, and went to bed. Then I saw it again 3 more times that week and on my day off was woke up by what sounded like a woman being murdered outside my bedroom window. 

I have young children so none of this was ok with me. Cougars are really awesome but not that close to my home, time to do some hunting. Her tracks were easy to find and follow, the surprise was the 2 sets of identical tracks (aside from being half the size) that started showing up, once the house was out of view. As I walked on occasion crawled down the game trail, there was a dead tree that looked like a scratching post and a sandy clearing very reminiscent of a litter box. The trail ended at an 8ft almost straight down drop-off into the creek bed with thick brush along the bottom, a jump I wasn't willing to take. 

So, feeling defeated and possibly delusional, I just sat there and enjoyed the view for a few minutes, and there they were. Sleeping in the brush up against the bottom of the steep bank about 20 yards to my left, my friend from the driveway and her 2 black kittens. To beautiful to kill I fired a round in to the opposite bank and watched them run away. We didn't hear or see any sign of them for about 4 months.

There back now and have been for a while. The kids no longer play behind our house and we see them regularly out the window around dawn when getting ready for school. The descriptions of jaguarundis are an exact fit for the juveniles, but the adults are much larger than what my research says is typical. Whatever people choose to call them, they're living and breeding in Blue Texas. They're beautiful and honestly the coolest neighbors I've ever had." 

Megan Grimm


TCH Comment: Blue sits in rural Lee County to the east of the Austin metropolitan area. The report is very interesting and detailed. I would be curious as to whether there are any photos of these cats? If not, I would like to place a couple of game cameras on the property. Megan, if you are reading this, please contact me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. The location of your property will be kept confidential and your population of cats will remain unmolested. I just would really like to get a glimpse of what you have been seeing.

The sightings above, unless otherwise noted, have been added to my black panther sightings distribution map. Click the link here to go to the map site. Once there, you can click on individual sighting locations and get a brief synopsis of each event.

















Thursday, May 25, 2017

Black Panther Sightings in Texas Continue

Some of you may be wondering if this blog has turned exclusively into a black panther site. The answer is no, but I understand why the question might be asked. As word has gotten out that there is somewhere to report sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats and that there is someone that will not dismiss sightings of said cats out of hand, the reports have continued to just roll in unabated. What you actually see published on this site are just some of the reports I receive on a weekly basis. It has become quite the job keeping up with them. I am working on some posts on other cryptozoological topics so, please, be patient. In the meantime, however, here are the latest reports from Texans who claim to have had run-ins with the mythic black panthers of the Lone Star State.

Reported 4/17/17

“About 6 years ago, I was staying with my cousin in Dial, just south of Honey Grove in Fannin County. It was winter and an ice storm had just passed through Oklahoma and graced Northeastern Texas with its presence. My cousin, his son, and I were headed out hog hunting about 6am that Saturday morning. My cousin's wife worked the night shift back then and had gotten home about an hour earlier. We opened the back porch door and stepped outside. I think we all saw it at the same time. Nobody said a word or moved. There was an enormous jet black cat lying on my cousin's wife's hood. It looked to be the size of an adult cougar. I suppose the warmth from the recently turned off engine felt good in 20-degree weather. It didn't seem spooked but peered at us and calmly jumped down and loped back into the tree line. We were amazed at what we had seen and decided nobody wanted to be alone in the woods that day. So, we rescheduled the hog hunting excursion.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Dial sits in southeast Fannin County along FM 824 about 25 miles to the southeast of Bonham. The Sulphur River flows west to east less than 5 miles from the small, unincorporated community. The land is almost exclusively reserved for agricultural purposes in the immediate vicinity and features the aforementioned Sulphur River, numerous creeks and ponds and heavily wooded riparian greenbelts. A large cat would have plenty of room to roam and thrive. The behavior described is something that rings true. Many would, no doubt, testify that they have seen domestic cats lying on top of warm car hoods during cold snaps. I see no reason a larger cat might not do the same thing during an unusually cold weather event (temperatures in the 20’s in Texas certainly qualify).




Reported 4/18/17

“I was working in South Texas -Dimmit county area one night. As I was driving to our yard to call it a night I saw a big cat Sprint across my path. They way it moved to get under the fence it sprinted to , assured me it was a cat. The size was rather large (4ft) and appeared well-fed. Coat was shiny black. Not brown whatsoever. Time was 5am. It was near the nueces river.”

- Eduardo Lopez, Jr.


TCH Comment: Dimmit County sits in south Texas along the Rio Grande River. The county seat is Carrizo Springs. The county consists of 1,335 rather lonesome square miles. There are only 8 people per square mile in the county. Mountain lions can be found in the region so a big cat could make a living here. It is possible that a melanistic jaguar could cross into from Mexico in this area. I am troubled a bit by a big cat that chose to go under a fence rather than over it. Before adding this sighting to my distribution map I would like to hear a bit more from Eduardo about the location of the fence, how a big a barrier it is, etc.


Reported 4/19/17

“Now in Texas, but when in New York saw -fleetingly!- a black, long tailed animal streak in front of my car. 1997, night. 70 ft? I entertained thoughts of a very skinny black bear, or a very large dog, but that tail... It had some of the aspects of a mental thing, i.e. spooky, perhaps wispy, ill defined, so I never bothered to tell anyone but friends. Not your exact bucket, but thought you'd like to hear.”

- Ol’ Bab



TCH Comment: It is an interesting story, I am always up for interesting stories. I have received a few sighting accounts from the northeastern region of the country so it is not as unlikely an incident as many might believe. Since it is far from my stomping grounds it will not appear on my distribution map.


Reported 4/20/17

“Hello. My name is Nathan Jordan. I'm from a small community in Tyler County. When I was a kid walking home from walking in the woods I looked down an old hunting club road and saw a head that was different from a deer or anything. I fired a shot from my rifle in the direction of the animal. I wasn't trying to hit the animal but spook it instead. It did the job and in one leap it jumped across the road which was ten feet minimum. I saw a long tail and it was obviously a cat. Because it was dusk the color was hard to make out but was definitely dark. We had seen large animal prints around the house before that and my cousin had witnessed a cat in the area also. My uncle said the prints were a bear to which my father laughed and said if it's a bear than where are the claw prints. We took a picture and I wish I had it. We laid a dollar bill so we could determine scale. It was close to the size of the dollar. I don't know exactly what I saw that evening but it was the most beautiful animal I've ever seen. Also while hunting coyotes and using a rabbit bleat every once in a while I'd hear that tell take sound of a cat. Thank you so much sir for your article and investigation. I hope that this story helps God Bless.”

- Nathan Jordan U.S.M.C
 


TCH Comment: Tyler County is located in east Texas in the region commonly called the Piney Woods. This is also one of the areas where units of the Big Thicket National Preserve can be found. The area has historically been rich in wildlife and cryptozoological lore. The area once held populations of red wolves, cougars and black bear. Two of these three species seem to be making a bit of a comeback in the area. The area is also rife with tales of black panthers. Nathan’s sighting is typical of most sightings of large cats in that it occurred quickly and not under ideal light conditions. I have no doubt that Nathan saw a big cat but, due to the fact he cannot positively state what color the animal was, I will not post this report on my distribution map. Thank you for taking time to send me this report, Nathan, and thank you for your service.


Reported 4/20/17

“I am a retired Forester w/ private industry in Arkansas and have been witness to LBC (large black cats) on 3 different occasions. 2 of the 3 were in the fall of the year during the hunting season here in S/W Arkansas. One was seen from my elevated deer stand located along a large creek approx. 1/2 mile from any paved or gravel road. The animal approached w/in 25/30 yards of my stand giving me a clear and unobstructed view. It was a large cat. The 2nd sighting was while I was "cruising" timber south of Fouke, Ark., supposed home of the 1970's Fouke Monster. While cruising timber in the Sulphur River basin I also saw a LBC. I had a feeling of being watched and followed so I stepped behind a large cypress tree and waited. Just a few minutes later the cat stepped out of a cane break approx. 50 yards from me. I let out a squall and he swapped ends and disappeared back the way he came. I also left the woods. The 3rd incident was from my truck w/ a friend as a witness. David Satterwhite and I were leaving the woods heading to his house to cook out. It was just before dusk dark when he stepped out of the woods onto the gravel road we were driving. At approx. 75 yards he/she (not knowing what gender any of the three were) stopped for a short 4 or 5 seconds and then jumped a wide ditch and disappeared into the thicket and gone...To surmise I know that these type cats are here. Are they just in transit or do they call this part of Arkansas home is yet to be determined. I am no "expert" as to judge this, but I know what I witnessed, and I do know the local fauna, they were not bears, Labrador dogs, or feral house cats. Until science take these sighting serious we may never know until someone is attacked by one of these mystery cats." 

- Tmbjak



TCH Comment: These incidents took place in Arkansas, so they will not be placed on my sightings distribution map but they are, nonetheless, fascinating. I cannot think of many whose eye-witness testimony would be more compelling than a career Forester.




Reported 4/21/17

“I'm in the DFW Metroplex. About 4 years ago, when I was working midnights I saw a jaguarundi walking along a creek at the border of Colleyville and North Richland Hills. I spotlighted it and took a short video of the cat on an old phone. Everything I read said these cats were rare in this area. I reported the sighting to TPWD but never heard back.”

- Clay Williams



TCH Comment: The sighting area is in Tarrant County which, to the surprise of many, has been a hotbed for black panther sightings. The witness states that he was working nights and spotlighted the cat in question. These factors clearly indicate the sighting took place in less than ideal light conditions. These things being the case, we must keep the possibility of the misidentification of a large domestic/feral cat on the table. That being the case, I will leave this sighting off my distribution map. The witness does say a short video was taken. I would be more than willing to reconsider my decision if I could get a look at that video so, Clay, if you see this and still have that video please email me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.


Reported 4/25/17

“ I live just south of San Antonio, in Atascosa county. I see jaguarundi on occasion when I drive to work in the city as well as in my neighborhood. They are definitely around the area, they're just good at staying out of sight most of the time.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Atascosa County is just south of Bexar County – home of the great city San Antonio – and not too far from accepted jaguarundi range. That being the case, it is not outside of the realm of possibility some of these wild cats could have ventured inland to this area. I would advise the witness to have a camera handy in case any future sightings take place.




Reported 5/9/17

“20 years ago, like the one in the picture. It was very graceful and smooth, and very quick as it ran. It stopped once too look at me, then took off very quickly. Black and shiny, very pretty. I guess it could have been a jaguar. Did not see the spots, however, the cat was probably 75 or so from me.”

- Outdoor Walker



TCH Comment: A very typical sighting where the witness caught a fleeting glimpse of one of these enigmatic shadow cats. The witness failed to say exactly where this sighting took place so I am unable to add it to my distribution map.


Reported 5/11/17

“Very interesting accounts. I have heard of the black panthers mostly in east Texas for years. Years ago, as a young boy, probably around 1966 in the Klein area North East of Tomball Texas I was riding my horse through the deep woods N of Willow Creek South of Spring Creek on an old logging road. My horse started acting extremely nervous and agitated. I was getting angry with him when he turned partway around and I saw the back half of a black panther. It was very sleek and muscular with a long tail. It was bigger than a bobcat but not as big as a cougar. I have hunted those woods for years and never saw another one but can tell you for a fact I did see that one on that early summer day 1966.
Thanks.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: I have heard many similar stories from my fellow east Texans. While there is less forest than there used to be in the region, there are still thousands of acres of wooded land in the region. This particular sighting took place in very close proximity to the Sam Houston National Forest and the primitive Big Thicket, an area rich in black panther lore. I will be adding this sighting to my distribution map.


Reported 5/11/17

“I was no more than 20′ from one 5 miles outside Kosse in 1986. Me and wife were visiting my mother when her dog started raising hell. I turned on the porch light and went to see what was going on. When I opened the door her dog (a big Malamute) ran inside and he never ever went in the house. Every hair on him was standing straight up and he was growling real deep and you could tell he was scared to death. Well I walked out on the porch with a flashlight and saw these eyes glowing from the porch light. When I shined the flashlight on it, I could not believe what I was looking at. Had always heard my mother talk of panthers but here was one not 20′ away. It had the big round pie plate head and a big fat tail. I would guess since it was standing at the back of my truck in her driveway, and it’s back was even with the top of my bumper. It would probably have weighed around 150lbs. The body alone was 5′ long with a 2-1/2′ to 3′ tail. My wife was right beside me so I know I wasn’t imagining things. Her neighbor raised sheep and he started missing a bunch of them.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Kosse is a small town in Limestone County. The county is looked at by many as a transitional area where central Texas becomes east Texas. The area around Kosse is extremely rural, lightly populated and has been a hotbed of sightings for large, black, long-tailed cats. If the witness in this case is correct, and I have no reason to believe he is not as his truck provided scale, this was an enormous cat. There is simply no way he or his wife could have mistaken an approximately 150 lb. cat with a domestic/feral or a jaguarundi. This sighting will join others from the Kosse area on my distribution map.


Reported 5/11/17

“I went to college in E TX. On a road trip to see the SFA vs Sam Houston football game in Huntsville, I saw a big black cat run across the road. I was shocked by the size and the black fur contrasting against the road. It made it across the road in a few trots. I asked the girl driving next to me if she saw the same thing and she stated she did. It definitely was no house cat. But the mid-body dip and long tail was very cat like. Just putting my experience out there.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Another sighting from the Sam Houston National Forest/primitive Big Thicket area. The sighting itself is nothing spectacular, just an animal crossing a road, with the exception of the fact that the animal seen is not supposed to exist. I will be adding this sighting to my distribution map.


Reported 5/15/17

“Years ago I lived in Blackwell, TX which is about 35 miles south of Sweetwater. I had to drive into Sweetwater for work and then home again, many times in the dark. I was always wary of deer and kept a sharp eye out. But one morning as I neared the intersection for Nolan (also called Divide), I saw very clearly a black panther, black as midnight, and the size of a fairly large dog cross the road in front of my car. I had plenty of time to watch it cross the road. It was in no real hurry, just crossed at a fair pace. I had always heard the local farmers knew there was a big cat in the area......but I finally saw it. We had lived in the area about a dozen years, that was the only time I saw for myself." 

TCH Comment: The sighting location sits in southeastern Nolan County southwest of Sweetwater. It is an area that has been the source of black panther reports in the past. The county is lightly populated – only 17 people per square mile according to the 2000 census – so there is plenty of room for a large cat to roam and remain largely undetected. This is yet another road crossing type of sighting, very typical. The witness was able to get a good long look at the animal as it crossed in front of his vehicle so the possibility of a misidentification seems remote. I will be adding this sighting to my distribution map.


Reported 5/19/17

“I live in Lindale TX just last week we had 2 Big Black Cat in our Land . Can we kill them ?”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Details are sparse on this one so I will leave the report off my distribution map; however, the witness raises a question that has been asked of me before so I will take this opportunity to address it. Can you kill a “black panther” without fear of prosecution? The answer is yes…and no. IF these long-tailed black cats turn out to be a novel species, then no prosecution would be forthcoming. As of now, the black panther is thought to be about as real as a unicorn to wildlife officials. There are no laws against killing “imaginary” animals. IF the cat in question turned out to be a mountain lion (I know there is not supposed to be any such thing as a melanistic cougar but play along for a moment) then the only requirement would be that the hunter possess a valid hunting license. There is no closed season on mountain lions in Texas. The only way a Texan might face prosecution for taking one of these cats would be if the animal in question turned out to be a jaguar or jaguarundi. Both are considered endangered or threatened and a person responsible for the killing of one of these cats could potentially face prosecution that could lead to jail and/or heavy fines. The exception to this scenario would be if a person could prove that their life or the life of a friend or family member or that of their livestock was in imminent danger at the time the shooting took place. Hopefully, I did not muddy the waters too much with that answer.

At this point I would like to put the call out to anyone and everyone that has a photograph of what they suspect is one of these mystery cats. In addition, I would like to request that you, the reader, spread the word on where sightings of black panthers can be reported. Remember that an email is a better and more efficient way to communicate with me than relating an experience via a comment on another post. The email makes a two way conversation possible. I can be reached at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.

I will post an updated distribution map soon. Until then...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

I'm Back and People Are Still Seeing Black Panthers

Before moving forward, I want to apologize for my lack of posting over the last year. To say I have been inactive would be a massive understatement. Life has been crazy and, I must admit, it has not all been a good kind of crazy. Not at all. That being said, I am blessed. I hope to be getting back to blogging on an, at least, semi-regular basis starting right now.

While life has been crazy, part of my exile has been self-imposed. I am still heavily involved with the NAWAC and much has been going on with the organization. I feel strongly we are closer than ever to making some ground-breaking discoveries. Also, what free time I have had left after job, family and NAWAC obligations has been eaten up by my book project. I am writing a book on the black panther phenomenon in Texas and the American South. While there is much work left to do – it is tough writing in fits and spurts - I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am hoping to complete the book this summer but much of the heavy lifting has been done already and I should be able to give the blog the attention it deserves.

So, thank you for sticking with me. I really appreciate it. Now, on to the subject at hand: black panther sightings.

Following are the latest reports submitted to me by fellow Texans who claim to have encountered large, black, long-tailed cats matching the classic description of a “black panther.” As I have stated here numerous times, there is not supposed to be any such animal. Despite this fact, Texans, and other people across the American South, continue to report sightings of these enigmatic felines.

Before we go any farther, numerous people have posted comments to previous posts on this topic claiming to have photos of these mystery cats. It is true that photos cannot be attached to comments; however, pictures can be emailed directly to me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. This email address can also be found in the right margin of the blog site. PLEASE, if you have photos or videos, attach them to an email and send them to this address. If you are leaving a comment on another post and would like for me to contact you directly, contact information will have to be included in the comment you leave, as I cannot respond directly to said comments.

Now, on to the reports…


4/15/17


“My brother just showed me a video of a large black cat approximately 2' x 5'at a distance of 80 yards shot with his phone. Broad daylight, sunning and bathing itself the cat was not intimidated by the bull dozer my brother was sitting on. It only moved when he dismounted the tractor and began walking towards it. Very muscular and without a doubt a cat, it was jet black. I would love to share this video to wildlife people that tell me they are not here. Location South of I20 mile marker 571 Winona, TX.”

- Justice P.



TCH Comment: This is an interesting account and the claim of video evidence is intriguing; however, no video accompanied the report. Justice, if you see this post, please email me a copy of the video. I would love to inspect it. If it is too large to email, contact me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com and we can make arrangements for a different type of file transfer. I will hold off on adding this report to my black panther distribution map until I can get a look at that video.



4/14/17

“6 yrs. ago I saw a large black cat moving down my fence line. My four donkeys were fixated watching it. At first I thought it was a dog, then a pig but I then saw a long black tail. I was certain it was a cat. I called Texas Fish and Game and was told there are no panthers in Texas and it must have been a house cat. Several of my neighbors have seen a black cat or (2) in the immediate area. I live outside of Mount Calm.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Mount Calm is a small town of approximately 320 people in Hill County. For the most part, the county is rural and farming and ranching dominate the economy. With only about 35,000 people in an county encompassing 986 square miles, there is plenty of room for a big cat to pass through or stay for long periods of time undiscovered. Hill County has also been the origin of several other reports of large black cats over the last several years. I really do not find any reason not to believe this witness and will add the sighting to my distribution map.


3/14/17

“I live in the southern tip of Lampasas county, 2 miles from Burnet county line. I travel BCR 223 every morning and evening going to work and back. Back in November 2016 at 05:30 I was travelling down 223 near the Lampasas river and 3 half grown black jaguars stepped out of the brush and trotted down the road for about 75 feet and exited toward the river. If my son had not been with me to verify, I think most people would have thought I was full of BS......scary out there sometimes.”

- Edmundo Lanehausen



TCH Comment: This report seems too good to be true but I have had other reports of multiple cats running together that I found to be credible. I would, however, like to hear more about this sighting and, if possible, speak to not only Edmundo but his son who also saw the cats. I will hold off on placing this sighting on my distribution map until, and unless, I hear back from Edmundo.

2/28/17

“I live in Granbury Texas, and have seen a very large black cat by my house two times in the past month. He was behind a 2-1/2 foot wall the first time sitting down and I only saw his head and upper shoulders. He was about 20 feet from my backdoor. A couple days later I saw him standing in my neighbors yard and he was about the size of a Great Dane. (I used to have a Dane so I know their size). He was black and marble colored (but that could have been because he was part in shadow of a lot of trees). He had a very long tail (posted this a few minutes ago, but forgot to name the town I live in).”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Granbury serves as the county seat of Hood County which has a population of only 41,000 people (98 per square mile) as of the 2000 census. The county sits just south of the Fort Worth half of the ever expanding D-FW Metroplex but retains much of its rural character once away from the I-35 W corridor. There has been at least one credible sighting of a large, black, long-tailed cat just north of Grandview outside of Alvarado. I find the description of the animal as “marble-colored” interesting. The witness admits this could have been an illusion created by light conditions but could it not also be a result of spots/rosettes being visible under a black coat as is seen in melanistic jaguars? If the witness is accurate with their description of size this is clearly no house cat. Likewise, if the witness is accurate and he was only 20-feet from the animal there should be no reason to think he mistook a dog for a cat. I will be adding this report to my distribution map.




2/21/17

“I was driving back from Shipley donuts around 6:00 a.m. through Old Settlers Park. I noticed a larger animal drinking from the creek where you first pass the Dell Diamond (a minor league baseball park – TCH note). As my car got closer, he raised his head to look at me. Huge saucer eyes. No visible ears like a bobcat. He turned and ran up a large oak. He had to of been 6-feet long. Also had a long snake like tail. This was no bobcat. When I told the park ranger. He kinda laughed me off like I was nuts. But I know what I saw.”

- Jon Wyatt



TCH Comment: At first glance this area seems to be a highly unlikely area for a big cat sighting of any kind. I will admit my first instinct was to put this one down as a case of mistaken identity and move on. I recalled, however, that I had a sighting reported to me from the same general area not too long prior to receiving Jon’s account. I filed that one away as a misidentification and never even mentioned it on the site. Maybe I was too hasty. Upon close inspection of the area, Brushy Creek runs just south of Old Settlers Park back to the east/northeast until it meets up with the San Gabriel River. There is a dense greenbelt that runs along the creek all the way out of Round Rock. Once out of town, the area east of Round Rock becomes extremely rural and lightly populated very quickly. I feel it is not outside of the realm of possibility that Jon saw exactly what he claims he saw. His description of an animal with a very long body and long tail that leapt into a tree certainly proves, if nothing else, that this was no dog. The reaction of the park ranger rings true to me as well. I am going to place this sighting on my distribution map despite the urban location of the event. The fact that two people in that immediate area reported seeing a ‘panther’ just weeks apart tells me something might have been going on in Old Settlers Park back in February.


2/17/17

“I'm in Centerville and 3 times have we spotted what we believe is a black panther. Mom saw it once dad saw it once they described it has a giant black cat with a long tail that walked real slow along the fence line picking up from legs really high. Today 2/17/17 I saw it for the first time running across the street. Bigger then a 60 pound dog and twice as long with a tail that drags the ground black as night. In only about 40 minutes from you probably.”

- Brandon Brison



TCH Comment: Centerville sits in Leon County in what is generally considered the easternmost portions of central Texas. The area just to the east of Centerville has yielded multiple reports of large black cats. The report is consistent with those I have heard from others in the area. I will be adding the sighitng to my distribution map. Brandon, if you see this, you are correct, I am only an hour west of you. I would love to sit down and talk to you and your folks about your sightings. If you are interested, email me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com.



11/18/16

“I just witnessed a large black cat I could only describe as a black panther near Rio Medina about 30 miles west of San Antonio. I just left the house to walk my dog and the cat was sitting about 25 yards from me and it just sat there and we looked at each other for about a minute before it decided to leave. I have seen bob cat and mountain lions before and this cat was much larger than a bob cat closer to the size of a mountain lion with a tail similar to the mountain lion but it was all black. Needless to say I feel like I just witnessed an animal most never see and chances are I will never see again.”

- Anonymous



TCH Comment: Rio Medina is an unincorporated community in Medina County, Texas. The community sits adjacent to the Medina River. The county encompasses 1,335 square miles and has a population density, as of the 2000 census, of only 30 people per square mile. To say there is not much going on out this area would be an understatement. It is a rugged and arid area that is sparsely populated and in which a big cat should be able to thrive and remain undetected. The sighting report itself is very believable and mirrors what has been reported by many others. The area just west of San Antonio has yielded numerous sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats over the last several years. I will be adding this sighting to my distribution map. 

Reports of these large, black, long-tailed cats continue to flow in to my inbox on a regular basis. I strongly believe that people are seeing a living animal. Please continue to forward reports of sightings to me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. You never know, yours might be the report that breaks this mystery wide open.

*If you would care to peruse the interactive black panther sighting distribution map, click here. Once you can view the map, click on individual pins to read a brief synopsis of what was reported at the location.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Important Reminder

*ANNOUNCEMENT/REMINDER* - Just a reminder that posting, emailing or tweeting me photos is granting me permission to publish them in any one of multiple formats (Facebook, Twitter, Book, Magazine, etc.). Proper photo credit will be given whenever possible. If you wish to share a photo with me but do not want it published, state that and I will certainly honor your request.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Oklahoma "Black Panther" Photo Examined

Over the holidays, I received an email from a gentleman named Cade ***** (he provided his last name but I am withholding it). Attached to the email was a very intriguing photograph. According to Cade, the photograph was taken by a game camera in Oklahoma. The camera actually belongs to a friend of Cade’s and was deployed on his deer lease. The photograph in question features a, seemingly, large and muscular mystery animal with a long tail. The head of the animal is down and partially obscured by tall grass which makes positive identification difficult. Cade found the photo interesting and felt that it might show a “black panther.” He did a bit of research online and that is what led him to me.


I found the photo very interesting and was, initially, quite excited by it. Clearly the animal is solid black and has a long tail. At first glance, the body of the creature seemed very cat-like and “slinky” with a big chest and tapered abdomen. The neck appears thick and strong and the ear that is partially visible seems to stand up in a manner that is reminiscent of a cat. Could this finally be it, a photograph of the long-tailed black cat so commonly referred to as a black panther here in the South? I asked Cade to go back to his friend in an attempt to get more details on the photo. Where was it taken? How high was the camera set? What was the approximate distance between the camera and the animal? Could I get a copy of the original uncropped/non-zoomed photo? What was the brand/model of the camera? There were other questions but you get the idea.

As I waited for Cade to get back to me, I continued to pour over the photo. While still intrigued, I began to have some doubts as to whether or not the animal in the picture was a cat. I showed the photo to some friends of mine who are experienced hunters and outdoorsmen and know their wildlife. Their responses were a bit mixed and raised even more questions in my mind. I will briefly touch on my concerns below.

First, the “slinky” build that I initially felt looked cat-like is really anything but. I started pulling up and inspecting photos of big cats, particularly cougars and jaguars which are found in the Americas. The tapered body seen in the photograph is actually not the norm at all for these two species. This is key as IF there is a black big cat of some sort roaming North America, it is highly likely to be a melanistic jaguar or cougar (I realize that no black cougars have ever been documented. I include a melanistic, or very dark, cougar as a suspect based simply on the size most often reported by people claiming to have seen black panthers, which closely matches the size of adult cougars, and the fact that this is one of the two big cats native to North America). What I found is that, most of the time, both jaguars and cougars are very thick and do not show much, if any, taper from their chest to their abdomen/pelvis. Below you can see a sampling of photos of both jaguars and cougars where this is evident. It is true that some of these big cats do, on occasion, exhibit this tapering but it seems to be the exception and seen most often in very young, very old or sick animals. I expanded my search to other big cats of the world and found the same thing to be true.



The second, and biggest, concern I have is also anatomical in nature. The animal in the photo is clearly a male. That, in and of itself, is not an issue; but, as I thought back on photos of cats of all shapes and sizes I have seen over the years, I could not recall seeing a penis sheath in any of the photos. I, myself, have captured many photos of bobcats via trail camera, surely some of them were males, but never could I say for sure based solely on the picture. I did some research and the reason for this became clear, the genitalia of a male cat is, for lack of a better term, seated differently than that of a canine. I believe the diagrams below illustrate this perfectly.


The photo of the African lion below clearly shows the anatomical characteristics of these big cats. No reproductive organs are seen directly below the pelvis/abdomen; however, the testicles can clearly be seen under the tail. Compare this photo to that of a male Great Dane. The penis sheath is clearly visible under the abdomen/pelvis of the dog. The animal in the game camera photo clearly exhibits a penis sheath like that of a dog. This anatomical feature is simply not present in cats of any size. That being the case, the animal in this photo cannot be a mountain lion, jaguar, jaguarundi or any other type of cat.


As much as I would like to think the Oklahoma photo is a big cat of some kind, the facts simply do not bear this out. Based on the evidence at hand, the only logical conclusion I can make is that this is a photo of a dog of some kind. It appears to be quite a robust dog, but a dog, none the less. The dog’s build (big chest and narrow abdomen), long curled up tail, pointed ears, dark color and thick neck actually remind me quite a bit of my Dutch Shepherd. Unlike the dog in the Oklahoma photo, my Dutch is a female which makes comparing the location and appearance of reproductive organs impossible. Even so, the build, ears, neck and tail are very similar. My dog weighs in at 60 lbs. and stands about 24” high. I will admit that the animal in the Oklahoma photo appears more robust and bigger than the shepherd in the photo below; however, it must be remembered that there is nothing in the photo to provide scale and this could be an illusion. The bottom line, however, is that the animal in the Oklahoma photo is almost certainly a dog.


I would love to be proven wrong on this, somehow, but the anatomy is just not right as it does not match that of any known cat. Some might argue that black panthers are not a known species; therefore, comparing their anatomy to known cats is not a valid way of reaching a conclusion. My response to that opinion would simply be that whatever black panthers are, they are cats. That being the case, it is not an unreasonable hypothesis to think their anatomy is similar to that of the other cats inhabiting our planet.

While I was disappointed that the animal in this photo turned out to be a dog, I am greatly encouraged that Cade was able to find me and submit the picture for inspection. This is occurring more and more often which tells me that my site is popping up on Google and other search engines when people query “black panthers.” I am very hopeful that the photo we are all waiting for will eventually be captured.

Let us hope it is soon.