Saturday, October 26, 2013

Black Panther Sighting Distribution Map

Anyone who has read this blog for very long knows of my interest in the cryptid black panthers that many are convinced roam the more remote areas of Texas and the Deep South. I know that there is not supposed to be any such animal. I know that the term black panther is generally considered to be a misnomer and that the only large melanistic cats out there are the leopards of Africa and the jaguars of Central and South America. I know that no melanistic cougars have ever been documented in captivity or the wild. I know all of this.

Yet, the sightings continue to pour in…

I’ve never seen a black panther myself but I know several people who say they have. I would trust these men with my life and believe their stories. I have met and interviewed many others who have had sightings of what can only be described as black panthers. I have no reason to doubt their accounts and detected no signs of deception from them. I’ve also seen a handful of very intriguing photos that, while not conclusive, seem to suggest that a large black cat of some sort just might be out there. I want to prove once and for all that these cats are out there. I want them documented and recognized by science. More than anything, I want to know what they are. New species? North American jaguar? What?

I have been holding onto and publishing the accounts of people who claim to have had encounters with these cryptid cats for several years now. I thought the accounts were fascinating and would make interesting reading for my followers but also hoped that some kind of pattern would become apparent as I studied them. Maybe some common denominator would appear that would help me zero in on where the best place to find one of these animals might be. I wanted to create a distribution map showing the location of each sighting. Only recently did I come to the point where I felt I had enough credible sighting reports to begin the process of creating such a map. I have plotted the location of right at one hundred sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats in the Lone Star State. I’ve included a handful of reports out of Oklahoma that have been sent to me as well. I have received sighting reports from other regions of the country and have published them in various blog posts but they are not included on this particular map. My black panther distribution map is below. The map shows the major rivers of Texas by name. Major cities are denoted by black dots. Sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats are denoted by red dots.


Have any patterns emerged as a result of my effort? Maybe. It appears that there are three definite hot spots for black panther sightings. They are the North Texas area surrounding the D-FW Metroplex, the Texas Hill Country and the Big Thicket/Piney Woods area of Southeast Texas. Central Texas has a high concentration of sightings as well but they are not in quite as tightly packed as the reports coming out of these other three regions. There is also a nice concentration of sightings in Northeast Texas.

Major rivers seem to play an important role in these sighting reports, particularly the areas where the rivers originate. For example, the Hill Country sightings are packed tightly within an area sandwiched between the headwaters of the Nueces, San Antonio, and Guadalupe Rivers. The Trinity River is a major player, too, with sightings concentrated at its beginning point (North Texas) and ending point (Southeast Texas). Secondary hot spots share this characteristic as well. Take the mini-flap of sightings just south of Wichita Falls near the point where the Brazos really begins to take shape and the small concentration of sightings in Northeast Texas near the headwaters of the Sabine and Neches Rivers. One seeming exception to the “headwaters” pattern is in Central Texas. The sightings here are concentrated in the region where the Brazos and Colorado Rivers begin to flow pretty close to one another but are already well established. Smaller rivers like the Leon, Little River, and Lampasas, however, do originate in this area so maybe it isn’t an exception after all. Southeast Texas, though, would definitely be an exception. This is the area where rivers culminate. The Sabine, Neches and Trinity all dump into the Gulf of Mexico near this area. The area does share many similarities with the headwaters areas mentioned above as large numbers of creeks, bayous and marshes cut through the region. These areas are inhospitable to humans but rich in resources for wildlife.

The fact that the sightings are concentrated near and along rivers is certainly no surprise. The waterways are natural corridors that wildlife uses to travel from one area to another. Even rivers that flow through major metropolitan areas, like the Trinity, are often surrounded by greenbelts a mile or more in width. These greenbelts certainly would not sustain a large predator for any real length of time but would provide more than adequate food resources and hiding places for transient cats as they moved through a highly populated area.

What is a bit eye opening to me is how the sightings are bunched up near the headwaters of rivers. I have no real explanation for this. Are these areas somehow richer than other areas along the path of these rivers? Maybe. Certainly the concentration of springs, creeks and small streams in these areas would make for a rich environment. Add the fact that many of the areas where our major rivers originate are still fairly remote and we might be on to something.

Please keep sending in your reports of black panther sightings. Encourage any friends you know that have seen these cats to do the same. The more credible sightings I can plot on the map the better.

Maybe we really can begin to zero in on the mysterious black panthers of Texas.

9 comments:

  1. A colleague and I spotted a large black cat today outside of our office. We watched it for about two minutes and were able watch it through binoculars. It was a gorgeous black animal, smaller than Mountain lion but much bigger than a Bobcat. We both reported it to the DEC. Of course they think we are nuts. I looked for tracks but there were none, the ground was too dry. We are located in Western NY just West of Rochester. I am still amazed at what we saw and looking around on the web to see how many others have seen one. I am not nuts. We are both hunters and very experienced spotting and identifying animals. I have seen a Mountain Lion before and know what they look like.

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  2. I saw a young, 4ft long, male black panther niled to a fence post in Peeltown, Texas (Kaufman, Co.), back in 1984. I was Eighteen at the time and just assumed everyone knew these cats where in the Trinity River Valley. I sure wish I had taken pictures and knocked on that Ranchers door to get the story.

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  3. gwspinner@yahoo.com

    I've hunted the vast brush country of South Texas for well over 30 years. I've never seen a Sasquatch, Skunk Ape, Chupacabra or any other so called "cryptid". I've never seen a rattlesnake approaching 7 feet and I've never seen a wild hog much over 300 pounds. I don't watch "Finding Bigfoot" and I don't think there's a "Lock Ness Monster". I don't think that little green men designed the pyramids and I don't believe in ghosts; I have however seen large "black cats" with my own eyes on several occasions.

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  4. I recently saw a large black animal cross the road in front of me near Taylor, Texas. It was smaller than a mountain lion, but bigger than a bobcat. Its tail was long, which ruled out a bobcat. It's body structure and muscle tone all point to a panther or cougar. I now look everyday hoping to catch another glimpse of this animal.

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  5. Not exactly a siting but...we live in Central Austin very near the Colorado river AKA LadyBird Lake. Recently we've been fighting squirrel and racoon infestations and purchased some predator urine as a deterrent. Several weeks later we found a large print in our garden near to a racoon print. It was clearly a large animal-- not a dog. We spoke with a pest control agent who said that big cats had been seen in the area. Sadly we did not record the print before it was washed away... but we are in a fairly wooded are near an abandoned power plant. Foxes have been seen in the area.

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  6. The previous comment took place in 78702.

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  7. One seen years ago in little axe Oklahoma by my neighbor and I. About 10 years old and I'm now 32. Definitely a black jaguar. The range for that cat did at one time long ago although scarce reached into Oklahoma.

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  8. In the summer of 1983, I saw a large black panther jump over our fence on the Cibolo Creek and over the neighbors fence, and go back into the river bottom. This sighting occurred in broad daylight. We lived approx 1 mile west of Sutherland Springs on the Cibolo Creek. I was waiting for my husband who had gone into the river bottom to call our horses up to feed them. The cat looked at me and turned and jumped over into the neighbors place. I will never, ever, forget this experience as long as I live. I reported it to the game warden for Wilson County, Texas at the time and he just as much told me I was seeing things. Later, another game warden told me that the cat could have been a pet that someone turned loose, but that black panthers or black leopards were not native to Texas. All I know is what I saw. And what I saw was a huge black cat with an extremely long tail. And it was no house cat.

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  9. Just had a black cat sighting about four miles north west of Decatur Tx, between Decatur and Alvord. Cat was watching us from a neighbor's pasture and when we approached closed it turned away and walked out of sight. He was about 100 yards away or a bit less.

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