Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Big Cats in Texas: Readers Have Their Say

No topic generates more interest and reader feedback on this site than the subject of big cats. I have received more email regarding black panthers and cougars than all other topics combined.

Why the excitement over big cats? It is pretty simple. According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, breeding populations of wild mountain lions are found only in the Big Bend Trans-Pecos region and deep south Texas in close proximity to the Rio Grande. Yet, sightings of these big cats continue to roll in on a very regular basis from other parts of the state.

The excitement over black panthers stems from the fact that state and federal agencies do not recognize that they exist at all. The official stance of said agencies, which includes the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department, is that there is no such animal. Period. People raised in the river bottoms and other rural areas of the Lone Star State would hotly dispute this claim. Many of these people don’t even know, much less care, that science fails to recognize the existence of black panthers. To them, the big cats have always been around and are no big deal. They are just another “long-tailed cat.” Sightings of these animals are not all that unusual in their mind.



I have discussed this topic several times but my intention here is to let those who’ve contacted me speak for themselves. Below are some of the emails I’ve received from readers regarding big cats, tawny and black, seen in places they just aren’t supposed to be.

Hello,
My friend described to me a sighting of what I think is Jaguarundi last week in Palo Pinto.
While searching the internet for other sightings came across your blog. Have any other similar reports?
I will call him Monday and get the details about time, place etc. He described very clearly to me a tawny colored, cougar like cat with a long tail. Crossing the road around a lake, and waiting in the grass roadside while they looked at it.
Your blog is very interesting to us outdoor types! Can't wait to see what you find next.

GM
Ft. Worth
July 17, 2010

I saw a very large sleek black cat this morning around 3:30a on Park, just east of Ohio (on/near the parkway). It could have been a panther. I didn't realize how big it was until it spotted me, looked around for a few seconds trying to decide what to do, and then torn off across Park. The cat was so fast, it crossed the entire street (six lanes plus the median) in less than 2 seconds. It was a thing of beauty!

Anonymous
August 15, 2010





I thought you might find these two quick stories interesting. My uncle is an HVAC technician, and was working on an AC unit on top of a building over off Cockrell Hill in Dallas . If you’re familiar with that area, much of it just a few years ago, was undeveloped hills, bluffs, forests, and prairie land. This was a newer building he was working on, and just below the building, he had a good view of the backyard of a house (he says about 40 to 50 ft away). He noticed something moving through the backyard, and to his surprise, when he looked to see what it was, it was a mountain lion! He said it walked through the yard, drank a little water from the swimming pool, and then leaped the 6 ft fence and made it’s way down into a creek that ran alongside the house on the other side.

My uncle is from east Texas and is very familiar with wildlife. He is certain that what he saw was NO bobcat, as it was much larger and had a long tail.

Anonymous
August 26, 2010

we saw what I would place my hand on a Bible and swear was a black panther cross our field. We were on the family farm out in Edgewood , TX while he was telling us this. From the woods, a black panther came crawling out (almost as if he was stalking something… or maybe trying to hide because he heard us talking), crossed our field, paused, and then sprang quickly into the woods on the other side. We couldn’t believe it. We watched it for a good 30 seconds, and I even watched it through binoculars, as my east TX family always keeps a pair handy when we’re having a fish fry outside… just because we enjoy watching all the critters that come across the field…. Which are usually just coyotes. But we have NEVER seen or even heard a panther before. We know they’re out there… we’ve seen prints, and some friends down the road in Van have seen them… but we couldn’t believe one was crossing our property… in broad daylight!

Anonymous
August 26, 2010

Yesterday morning I was sitting on my back porch drinking coffee and watching my deer feeder which is about 40-50 yards from my house. Time was 6:30 am. I picked up my binoculars to make sure they were sighted in when I saw a dark form move into the area right behind my deer feeder. My first thought was, it was a deer. It was not a deer but a large dark colored cat. The cat walked across the opening and back into the woods. I would guess the cat to be 30-36 inches tall and weigh around 50 pounds with a tail that had to be 2-3 feet in length. We live back in the woods of East Texas between Hardin and Hull Texas. I watched the cat through my binoculars for 10-15 seconds. I don’t care what the biologists say, I know what I saw. At work this morning a couple of other people have witnessed similar cats in the past.

Anonymous
November 22, 2010

My father says what he saw in the Big Thicket in the 1960s while clearing a pipeline right-of-way was decidedly BLACK. As he describes it, "It was black as coal..."

Anonymous
January 6, 2011



I just happened upon your post. I have two things for you. 1. My dad used to manage a Pilgrims Pride chicken farm just outside of Betty Texas. This would be considered a rural area, north of Gilmer Texas. Often times he would have to walk the chicken houses in the early morning around 4am and 5am in the morning. Several times he would see a big black cat scouting around the 4 chicken houses. He was able to get a plaster of one of the paws. The paw was about 4 to 6 inches in width, with large pads and claws. We were never able to get a picture of the cat however.

Anonymous
January 30, 2011

Hello!

I am a big fan of your blog. I wanted to let you know about a sighting today between Naples and Hughes Springs in Texas. We have 45 acres that sit on the Cass County and Morris County line. It is mostly wooded and bottom land with a creek and part of an old catfish farm. Our neighbor went out to check our hog trap around 4pm today. When he was almost to the trap a large cat bolted out behind the power pole and ran into some brush. He said the cat was as big as his old Lab who weighs between 80-90 lbs. He stressed that it was very heavy or thick

Anonymous
March 23, 2011

I believe I saw a large black cat on the Mineral Wells Rails to Trails bike path today. I was riding along and spotted about 20 feet in front of me a large, black animal. Lanky, with a long tail and short ears. My first instinct was that it was a cat, but I thought how could that be??...It was moving slowly and deliberately. It saw me and slipped into the woods. I guess I got a little frightened as I rode by and decided not to stop and investigate further - but I really wanted to. I was trying to convince myself it was a dog..but I believe I saw a cat.

Anonymous
August 22, 2010

Two people I know have seen large black cats near Quitman, TX and another heard the screams of what sounded like a panther. One of my friends who saw the big, black cat was able to pull out binoculars and take a closer look. Maybe not a panther, but it was definitely a large, black cat.

Anonymous
September 2, 2010


My husband (not prone to flightiness...) saw a large animal three doors down from our house, and went to investigate. The animal was large...Great Dane sized according to my husband, and he would know as we live with two Great Danes. The animal was sauntering (his words) down the sidewalk, and when he heard my husband come out the front door, he/she stopped, turned to look at him for about four or five seconds...and turned back around, continued at a leisurely pace, and then disappeared into the side yard area of a home four doors down. My husband described the coat as "mottled" but black. This was at 2 pm on a sunny, sunny day. He remembered the tail, which was exceptionally long, and plush. And while he still thought it was a dog, when it turned to look straight at him, there was NO doubt it was a cat...a very very very big cat...so he simply walked slowly backwards to the door, went in the house and shut the door behind him.

Anonymous
September 7, 2010

We actually have had two sightings in our area of East Texas (Anderson County). The first was about a year ago, when my husband and I were driving home down backroads in the afternoon. We saw a large black creature running through a pasture on the right side of the road. As we got closer, it darted across the road and disappeared into the brush on the left side of the road. As it crossed, there was no doubt whatsoever that it was a large cat. I had thought it must be a large dog when we first saw it in the pasture, but seeing the long tail and the fluid way that it was moving gave away the fact that it was, indeed, a very large cat.

The second sighting was just two days ago. My brother-in-law was mowing the sides of the dirt road we share when he saw a very large brown/black cat with what he thought were stripes of some kind run across the road in front of him. He said that it was definitely much larger than a bobcat, and had a long tail.

Having seen one with my own eyes, I know for a fact that there is some sort of large dark brown or black cat in East Texas that is NOT a bobcat or mountain lion.

Anonymous
October 18, 2010

5 Miles Out Side Of Quitman on FM 69 (Wood County)

Last night my son and I were driving home and right by our house a HUGE black cat ran in front of the car and stopped in our neighbors yard. It was the size of a Great Dane. HUGE! We went up the hill and back down to take another look and it was gone. The neighbors went out looking but he was gone. The cat was sleek black and slim with a long curved tail...for sure a large cat and as large as a Great Dane. Incredible! I know it wasn't a feral pig by it's slim shape or a bear...it was very much a cat.

The neighbors said that there was a Giant black cat a couple of years back that killed some chickens and some guy watched it come in to his yard and snatched his puppy. But then it went away...now he may be back. And in the woods behind my house....neat and kind of scary! He was just so big...I just can't believe we saw it!

Anonymous
November 24, 2010




Argyle, TX (South of Denton). Verified by 3 people at the same time while out walking. Sighting from 20 yrds away. Cat was no more than 300 yards from I35W. Large black cat standing between 2-3 feet tall disappeared into the brush near sundown. Could not tell if it was spotted or not, certainly black though. Long tail, certainly not a dog or bobcat.
Also verified w/ a local builder at a separate time in the same neighborhood except that he saw 2 cubs w/ her.

Anonymous
January 11, 2011

(Arp, TX)Smith County

On three separate occasions three people including myself over a 6 year period have seen a large black cat on my property. When I say large I mean the size of say a Mastiff with a long tail at least the length of its body. I have plenty of domestic cats around and am very familiar with the movement of them as well as dogs etc. This was defiantly a large cat. Moved way to smooth and fast for anything else. Not to mention how it could jump and spring over my fence. The most recent spotting was about a month ago at dusk while putting out hay for our horses. We spotted the cat laying on the back side of my pond. We got to within 40-50 yards from it with the tractor and it jumped up and ran off. The fence line that runs with the edge of my property is very heavily wooded so there are plenty of places for him to hide. All of my surrounding neighbors with farm land have said they have seen one as well. I have never had a problem with any of my animals being harmed with the exception of one newborn colt that mysteriously disappeared the night it was born and its bones showing up a week later in my hay pasture (I blame that on coyotes) but it could have been an easy meal for the cat.

Anonymouos
January 22, 2011

Sighting:
Just outside Hubbard, TX
Description: 2 long-tailed large cats sighted at dusk. 2-3 feet at the shoulder.
Dark gray/tan/brown---not really sure b/c of lighting.
Certainly not a bobcat nor a dog.
Feces of large cat discovered afterwards (leaves scraped together w/ feline feces on top).
Paw prints quite larger than grown woman's hand.

Anonymous
March 3, 2011

Location: Hubbard, TX
Description: Large gray cat sighted crossing road outside of Hubbard, TX mid-afternoon, no doubt not a dog, not a domestic cat. Too large in size. Tail full length of the cat's body

Anonymous
March 3, 2011


I guess by now you are getting the idea. I have at least three dozen other contacts claiming to have seen cougars or black panthers in various locations across Texas.* What are we to make of all this? Are all these people making things up? Are they all misidentifying some other animal? Are they all escaped exotic pets? These explanations are all very hard for me to swallow. I think there may very well be large black cats of some kind out there. What are they?

Only time will tell…

*It should be noted that many of those who shared their stories did include their full names. I have labeled all senders as "anonymous" so as to protect their privacy.

24 comments:

  1. Interesting! I never knew black panthers existed in Texas!

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  2. Loved this one, Mike. So great to read all of those emails. They really help to confirm my own sightings. Keep up the good work. Your blog is always hours of informative entertainment.


    Justin

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  3. McDade,Tx - several sightings of a large dark cat. Supposedly we have a pair with 2 cubs, estimated to be last years offspring on the neighboring land. She could possibly have new cubs also.

    I live in a populated campground and I have seen it 2 times this summer and heard it scream this past week. Many pet cats have gone missing and it was seen taking a cat from a porch. Large footprints have been found as we have sandy soil. We have game cams set up trying to get a good picture.

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  4. I would love to see any pictures of the paw prints you might have as well as any game camera photos you obtain.

    Good luck.

    Mike

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  5. Big cat spotted tonight in NW Fort Worth at Eagle Mountain lake area, off Boat Club road and Eagle Ranch. Dark brown, size of a Lab. 50-60 yards behind house. Wife and son witnessed it too. Son thought it was a bobcat, but it was too big. Walked near a creek/ pond area.

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  6. At around 930 pm as I was driving home on Bobwhite Rd in Gilmer Texas I saw a very large black cat crossing the road. He passed right in front of my head lights that I had on hi beam. When I say large I mean he was the size of a large lab. I reported this sighting to my husband and he informed me that there have been many sightings in the area.

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  7. In Rockport, Fulton & Lamar Texas, back in the late 1960's - early 1970's, there were 'POSTED' bounty notices for 'Black Panthers' - I believe the culprits were hanging out in the Lamar area.

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  8. Some people about 5 miles east of Conroe Texas on Millmac road have got some of their goats missing, and someone else captured a picture of a panther on a game camera near there...plus other pictures north of Conroe in the Nat'l Forest.

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    1. In the 60's forestcove sub division off hwy 59 & hamblen rd...My dad would go out in the woods at night with a friend and play a recording of a wounded rabbit..They were looking for blackcats.. also the exit from hamblen rd onto hwy 59 north to new caney was called black cat ridge...how u like them apples. those little darlins have been around for a long time!!!

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  9. starting late last year a good friend of mine has been seeing a large brown cat with long tail on his property in pittsburg tx. Just a couple of months ago mid febuary their 110lb black lab\rotty mix (a real homebody layabout) disappeared. They fear he was killed by the cat, and have since spotted the animal 2 more times.

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  10. may 7th 2012 @ 4:30 am in haltom city tx near big fossil creek area off hwy. 121 there was a l arge,long-tailed cat tan in color and taller than a bumper on a mid sized car that stolled across the driveway and was caught on our outside camera didnt say anything then people said we were crazy.In the past one of our dogs was cut very bad on its hind foot and puncture wounds on its side and back.I was with some people and they mentioned that their neighbor had told them their was a big cat in their yard one morning about 6:00 am that to be exactly what we had seen.And she told texas parks&Wildlife local animal control both agencies blew it off and said needed photo to pursue.who is expecting to take photos of this type to accumulate evidence for them!!!.Dont know if you can help or give your thoughts of sightings like this.Could this have some valid reason for me to have some concern?We only live 4 or 5 miles out of downtown.

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  11. Just saw a Large Brown maybe wild cat on South of 288 near Pearland Texas. This cat was much larger than a wild cat. It was attempting to cross the freeway. Date June 29, 2012

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  12. I thought I was crazy but glad there are more lie me, I was walking me small dog in a small wooded area near Kline high School in Kline TX.
    down a small dirt road I saw a Large Black Cat it stopped and faced me and just looked at us, it looked a pretty large and having raised domestic cats of all breeeds this was not domestic it was very intimidating, I walked behind a large fence and looked back and he was still in the same position, I tried to hurry back to get my phone and he was gone. 7/16/2012

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  13. Wow! This is a confirmation to my own witness and hearings about cougar and other small wild cats in Brownsville Texas' near the rio grande river and previous testimonies at local bike trail.

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  14. I live on a cul de sac in a subdivision in Richmond, Tx. This morning just before 7am, a reddish cat about the size of a boxer with no spots, a dark-tipped shorter tail trotted past going into the woods at the end of my street. It looked like a mountain lion except for the size and shorter tail. Very similar to the description of the caracal but I didn't notice the tufted ears, though it was just a profile view.

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  15. Hi, 8/11/2012 on 380 W near 287 in Decatur, Tx. Flat tire, waiting for truck w/ new tires, saw a black form in field about 5 to 600 yards near tree line. Got binoculars out, yep, LARGE BLACK CAT... LONG TAIL. Stretching, layin in sun, jumping into air, running and turning in air. Watched for almost 10 minutes. Didn't have camera, Son w/me, watched also. Pretty!

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  16. Anyone seen panthers near Bob Woodruff Park in East Plano, TX? Actually, on a residential Street near Rockbrook.

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  17. I grew up in Sabine county in east Texas. When I was a kid, my mom, my sister and I stood on our front porch and watched a very large, sleek black cat with a tail as long as it's body drink from the stock tank. It then slowly walked to a tree, stretched up and scratched on it. Over the years, I have seen large cats a number of time in the area, numerous times on the road between Yellowpine and Newton and in the bottoms of Sabine county. Nobody will ever convine me there aren't large cats in east Texas as I've seen them.

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  18. I have to say I just saw today a big black cat NW Austin in back of my fence in private green belt. It was dark almost black about 3 feet tall, long tail.

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    1. First part of Dec, 2012 say a big blackess cat in private green belt back of my fence in Great Hills NW Austin fit same description. Have put up game camera, and so far noting yet. But coyotes 1 to 3 times day and night every day since Christmas. Also notice very few deer around the area as in past.

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  19. I just came accross this looking for info on what my family saw on our property this morning about 7a.m. Large black cat as big as our mastiff, two different people saw it. We live in the ranchlands in Edinburg Tx.

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  20. We frequently see(at least twice a year) a large black and somewhat spotted cat on my ranch in Llano County. All of the sightings of the cat have been along a seasonal creek that runs across the front part of the pasture. It just always is a little too quick to get in to the thick brush and disappear before I can get a shot on it. The cat seems to be just slightly smaller than most of the mountain lions we have seen but the tail is much longer and fuller than a mountain lion. These sighting have been going on for at least 20 years, so I would suspect there is at least a breeding pair in the area. And as of recent my wife and I both have spotted in the same area what we believe to be an Ocelot.

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  21. I saw a large black cat run across Alamo Parkway in San Antonio on Saturday, August 23rd. It ran across the road in front of my car about 100 feet in front.

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  22. January 20th 2014 My son and I were out riding in Fisher County right at dusk when an animal crossed the road in front of us, I did not get a good look at it at first other than it was black and my first thought was it was a pig. I drove up another 100 or so yards and we got a better look at it sitting in the pasture. Rob said "Thats not a pig, it is a dog or a big ass cat" It started moving again and yes, it was a big cat. BIG CAT, we were within 75 to 100 yards of it and it was at least 5 feet long.

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