I felt it was about time to update everyone on the latest black panther sighting reports I have received over the last several months. The reports just keep coming and some real areas of interest are beginning to present themselves. I am hopeful that, as reports continue to come in to me, that a hard pattern will emerge and I can zero in my time and efforts on a specific location in an effort to document these animals.
Before we begin, let me repeat a few things that I have said before. I know that there is no such animal as a “black panther.” The known big cats that have been given this moniker are either African leopards or New World jaguars exhibiting melanism. So, when I use the term “black panther,” realize it is a colloquialism, a catchall phrase, if you will, that is commonly used in Texas and the Deep South to describe any large, black or very dark, long-tailed cat.
Now, on to the reports.
“I live in Mexico (in an area where jaguarundis are called leoncillo- little lion-) and I have seen a stuffed specimen so big it dwarfed all the jaguarundis I've seen in zoos (or photographs for that matter). It was so big in fact I thought I was looking at a small puma at first (and I can tell them apart). I'm not going to say the place, but I do believe those particular mountains may be the home of the largest jaguarundis in the world, as apparently this was not considered a freak by the locals but a perfectly normal individual.
My point by saying this is that scientists don´t know everything, and regular people make a mistake whenever they accept their claims as absolute; I have read many books on jaguarundis and none of them mention specimens as big as the one I saw- not even close. But I saw the giant specimen and so has anyone who has been to that place where it's displayed; therefore, those giant jaguarundis do exist; it doesn´t matter that the educated "experts" sitting behind desks in London or New York are not aware of their existence.”
TCH Comment: This is a very interesting assertion; however, as no photographic evidence of the mounted specimen, or the location of said mount, was provided, I must take this claim with a grain of salt. Let me be clear, I am not accusing Curupira of being untruthful but I need more in order to feel good about his claims. If there is such a large specimen and the location is known, then getting a photo of it with something in the shot to provide scale should not be too difficult.
I do agree with Curupira that there is a certain institutional arrogance among mainstream science. Certainly, science should not merely accept the existence of large melanistic cats without some sort of proof, but there is a fine line between demanding evidence and having a completely closed mind. For now, I will not be including this report on my distribution map.
“In I'd say mid 90's, I was hunting at Hwy 199 and the intersection of 2210 in Jack County. One day I just, for whatever reason, walked a deer trail to a small tank. I found a small deer carcass in a tree. Really freaked me out. Could not understand why a deer carcass would be in a tree. Few weeks later, I was watching an open field and watching a group of 10 to 15 deer. I’m clearly hidden, this was about a 40 acre field. All sudden those deer scared and hauled ass. I looked at the far end of this field and I saw a huge, huge black cat. Never seen anything like that in my life. I told some ranchers/farmers what I saw. Most didn't believe me. But I saw what I saw.”
TCH Comment: I’m torn on this report. As I’ve discussed here before, the only big cats that regularly cache kills in trees are leopards. They do this in order to protect their kills from other predators like lions or hyenas that tend to run in large groups. There would be no need for a large cat to stash a deer in a tree here, as there are no other predators large enough in Texas to present a threat to them. I thought for years that jaguars cached kills in trees as well but have learned that is simply not the case (exceptions sometimes occur during times of flooding). Cougars cover up their kills in a manner similar to that of bears and do not cache kills in trees. You never want to say never but this claim is a bit dubious to me. It is possible the sighting that took place later did occur and was not connected to the alleged deer kill but since they are tied together in the same account, I feel uneasy about it as well. All that being the case, unless I am presented with evidence to sway me, I am keeping this account off my black panther distribution map for now.
"Hi there. I was sent here by Kyle Philson from Expanded Perspectives. I had a black panther sighting in Denton, Texas this morning. I was riding my bicycle through my neighborhood and saw this big black cat. What caught my eye was the distinctive tail. The animal was about the size of medium sized dog, roughly 50 pounds. I slowed down to get a better look and it hopped an 8-foot fence and was gone. This happened roughly 10:15am at Calvert and Le Sage. I didn't have my phone, so I was not able to get a photo."
- Michael Patrick McEvoy
TCH Comment: This is an interesting report. I’ve had many reports out of what would be considered the DFW Metroplex. Denton, like many Texas cities, is very urban but situated in such a way that one doesn’t have to travel far at all to be in a very rural environment. This particular location is in a subdivision that backs up to agricultural land. It is just west of Lake Lewisville and only a few miles south of Lake Ray Hubbard. I’ve had many reports originate from these areas. If the witness is correct in his estimation of the weight of the cat, it is not likely he saw a jaguarundi. The long tail eliminates a bobcat and the black color eliminates the possibility of a juvenile mountain lion. If it did, indeed, jump over a 6-8 foot high fence, it is a pretty strong and substantial animal. This leaping ability would also eliminate the possibility the witness mistook a dog for a big cat. What does that leave? I will be adding this sighting to my black panther distribution map.
“My mother who is 65 years old saw one of these big black cats laying on the 8th hole of Hilltop Lakes golf course a couple of weeks ago. My Uncle and her were able to watch it for over 5 minutes laying on the golf course at night.”
TCH Comment: Hilltop Lakes, Texas is an unincorporated community of roughly 300 souls that sits pretty much in the middle of nowhere in Leon County. The closest towns of any size are Franklin (population 1,564*), Madisonville (population 4,396*) and Normangee (population 685*). The area is sparsely populated and has many creeks and wooded areas in which a big cat could roam. The area also sports a very healthy deer and hog population on which a large predator could subsist. There is a history of sightings in the Leon County area as well. The only part of the report that I would like clarification on is how they were able to see the cat so well at night. While a large cat could be identified on a bright night without too much trouble, making an accurate assessment of the color of the animal could be tricky. On the whole, the report seems credible so I will include it on my updated distribution map.
* As of the 2000 census.
“I know several individuals who have claimed sightings of these big cats in the Kosse area over the years, including a family member that stated she saw one feeding on a lamb carcass. A close friend of mine used to monitor the lakes at Texas Silica and stated he would routinely see these animals when he would spotlight the lakes at night. I have been told they were the result of an individual who had some of these cats raised in captivity and were simply released upon his passing, although I could not validate this. I have however, heard a blood-curdling scream late one evening in the wilderness a few miles from this area and could not attribute it to anything other than some sort of large cat. I have little doubt these animals exist in the area.”
TCH Comment: Kosse is a small town of roughly 500-600 people in Limestone County, Texas. Texas Silica is an outfit that mines sand and kaolin clay. Sand mined from the Kosse facility is used primarily for the glass and recreational sand industries, with a small portion of sand sold as grout sand. The kaolin clay is sold to the paint industry and for brick production. Texas Silica is one of the larger employers in the county and owns or leases a lot of acreage, much of it still wooded and isolated. There are numerous creeks, ponds and lakes in the area and many reports of large black cats have originated from this area. I will add this report to my black panther distribution map.
“I saw a very large black cat on my farm in Calhoun County late yesterday. It was much larger than a bobcat with a long tail. We have coyotes too so I know what they look like. Wish I had a camera with me.”
TCH Comment: Calhoun County sits on the south Texas coastline where the Guadalupe River empties into San Antonio Bay. This would be considered the upper reaches of accepted jaguarundi territory. The cat described by the witness, however, sounds like it was larger than a typical jaguarundi specimen(20-25 lbs.). The county is not heavily populated and averages only 40 people per square mile. There is plenty of room for a large cat to roam. In addition, there is an ample prey base as deer, hogs and small mammals. This report will be added to the black panther distribution map.
“Just saw a 3-4 foot long big cat in our yard in Parker. At first thought it was a Bobcat, but it had much darker spotting and a longer tail.”
TCH Comment: Parker is located in Collin County in north Texas. The town is just northeast of Plano and would be considered a Dallas suburb. Many reports of cougars and large melanistic cats have come from this area over the last several years. The area quickly becomes rural once you get out of town and is sandwiched between three large reservoirs (Lake Lewisville, Lake Ray Hubbard and Lake Lavon). The claim that “spotting” was visible on the cat, even though it was dark is interesting. The long tail would seem to rule out a bobcat as a suspect here and the 3-4 foot estimate on the animal’s length would rule out a normal feral or house cat. This report will be added to my distribution map.
“I too have seen a black panther near Hooks and Red River Bottoms. Saw the panther trailing a deer with another witness. 1993.”
TCH Comment: Hooks, Texas is located in the extreme northeast portion of the Lone Star State in Bowie County. The area is heavily wooded and sparsely populated. The area where this cat was seen sits almost directly on the spot where Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana meet. There are more than 65 million acres of forestland in this four-state region; that is equals about 100,000 square miles. There is ample rainfall and a substantial prey base here. Black bear, bobcat, coyotes, cougar and, according to some residents of the area, a remnant population of red wolves all make their home in this region. If one accepts the possibility that large melanistic cats exist, this would be a logical area in which for them to live. This report will be added to the distribution map.
“This morning I saw a dead black medium sized puma?! It was on Masterson Road on the outskirt of San Antonio. Later in the day, it was gone.”
TCH Comment: Masterson Road is on the southwest side of the city of San Antonio and is quite rural. The east branch of Big Sous Creek runs through the area and there remain large tracts of wooded land as well as a substantial greenbelt running west to east along the Medina River, which is just south of the location given by the witness. A mountain lion in this area would not be surprising to me in the least. It is a bit curious that the carcass would be removed so quickly but hardly anything worthy of a conspiracy theory. I am going to hold off on including this report on my black panther distribution map, not because I do not believe the witness but because identifying a dead animal on the side of the road can be tricky business depending upon the speed at which the witness might have been traveling. If the witness contacts me and give me additional information (they stopped and got out of their vehicle to examine the animal, for example) then I might change my mind and include the incident on the distribution map.
“In West Orange, next to my chicken pen, 7 turkey, 6 geese, & 1 - 1 year old heifer 9/20/14, have been killed out on our ranch. There were paw prints left in the geese pen. I took pictures of the paw imprints.”
TCH Comment: Lisa, if you see this post, please forward me the photos of the paw prints. You can email them to Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. While many predators could be responsible for the killing of the turkey and geese, the heifer is a different story altogether. If an individual predator is responsible for the death of this cow, it would have to be substantial. Due to the fact that no sightings of the culprit(s) have taken place as of yet, this incident will not be included on the newest distribution map.
“October 4, 2014- Downtown Austin- Deerfoot trail and Barton Hills Dr. At 2pm, three adults and one 9 year old witnessed a large black cat 3-4ft not including tail roughly 60-80 lbs. (thick) run out into oncoming traffic, almost get hit and then proceed East between Deerfoot Dr and Wildgrove. Please note this is just off the Zilker/Barton Creek GreenBelt Trail that has significant game living in it. A photo would have been taken but frankly having a child with us we really wanted to get out of the area quickly. Everyone agreed this was a panther.”
TCH Comment: At first glance, the area described is an unlikely spot to see a big cat. Upon further inspection, however, I’m not so sure it can be dismissed so easily. The Texas capital city is known as a unique place. “Keep Austin Weird” is a mantra there. It is not unusual to see deer, bobcats or any number of other animals almost anywhere in the city. The greenbelt that runs along either side of Barton Creek is quite substantial and intersects with another greenbelt along the Colorado River. It is possible a wayward cat could have traveled along the Colorado from the northwest until it got to Barton Creek. At that point it would have been easy for the animal to veer to the southwest along Barton Creek and past Zilker Park. The greenbelt culminates at Barton Creek Wilderness Park which is described as follows on the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department: This expansive park surrounding the west end of Barton Creek Greenbelt features miles of heavily wooded hike and bike trails. It is popular with day hikers, runners, bikers, and dog lovers. While Austin has sprawled greatly over the last two decades, it still does not take too long to get into some pretty lonesome Texas Hill Country to the west of the city. The Colorado River and the Barton Creek Greenbelt provide a direct route to these more open spaces. I do not consider this an outlandish report and will add the sighting to my black panther distribution map.
“I have seen two cougars in far north Dallas in the past month. The first one crossing Dilbeck as it walked down the alley for that neighborhood and another, somewhat larger, had been hit by a vehicle on Keller springs by the dog park. Definitely not bobcats.”
TCH Comment: I am a bit conflicted about this report. While the sightings of the cats took place in areas not too far from other big cat reports, these two take place a bit closer to some really urban areas than I might expect. I cannot decide if seeing two cats so close in proximity and, I am assuming not too many days or weeks apart, adds more or less credibility to the claim. A valid argument could be made either way. Regardless, it does point to the possibility that mountain lions are making a nice comeback and are getting more comfortable living in close proximity to urban areas. Since the report concerns normal tawny-colored cougars, it will not be included on my black panther distribution map.
“I live in the Mineral Wells area and I seen one just like you described Nov. 2003.”
TCH Comment: I would like to have more detail on this sighting but have no reason not to believe this witness. In my experience, hoaxers almost always embellish their tales too much. In addition, the area in question is one where other reports have originated. I will add this account to my black panther distribution map.
“Black panther sighting in Pilot Point, Texas on Sunday, Oct 14, 4:30 pm. I live on the southwest edge of Pilot Point. Our home is surrounded on three sides of active pasture. Yesterday, while watching the Dallas Cowboys, several of the momma cows were near out back yard fence started bawling in an alarm sequence. It was not normal, so I went out back to the fence to see what the fuss was about. The twenty or so momma cows and calves were bunched up and on point. They were watching a black panther about three hundred yards away in the short grass pasture. It took me a few seconds to make sure I wasn't looking at a black great dane. When I went into the house to get a gun, my wife kept an eye on it. But, my movements must have spooked it and it ran off. Now, a week ago, I had to call farmer Bob and let him know I had found a small calf that had been killed, eaten and the carcass dismembered. He put it off to roaming dogs. But, the manner in which the remains had been eaten, I did not think it was dogs. But, no visible evidence to dispute that. Now, my neighbor across the street tells me that they had lost their pet goat to a black panther. No hesitation as to the description of the animal. Also, we have second hand reports of some folks living 3/4 mile west of us sighting a black panther in a pasture close to their house several times over the last several weeks, typically at 8:00 am. Over the last 40 years I have spent a fair amount of time in the bush - from North America to Africa. I know animal recognition from small critters to big game. More to come on the Pilot Point black panther as (if) it happens.”
- David P. Leach
TCH Comment: This report sounds promising. If David is correct, and he saw the cat from 300 yards in tall grass, it must have been a large animal; too large to have been a feral. Pilot Point sits on the eastern shores of Lake Ray Roberts, a spot where numerous black panther reports have originated. David, if you are reading this, please contact me. I would like to come up and take a look around. If you or any of your neighbors are willing, I’d like to discuss placing some cameras in the area in the hopes of documenting this large black cat. This sighting will be added to my distribution map.
“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.”
TCH Comment: Little Axe sits in Central Oklahoma just east of Lake Thunderbird. This area is a bit farther north than I usually keep an eye on but I include it here to represent reports I get from far and wide regarding these large melanistic cats.
I should have an updated version of my black panther distribution map ready within a few days. I will post the updated map at that time.