I want all of you to know that I really am planning on posting on some topics other than black panthers very soon. It is just that the reports keep rolling in and if I do not take the time to get them published and mapped they really stack up. I am trying to prevent a back log like I had a month or so ago. That being the case, here are the latest reports to come in to me.
As always, keep in mind that "black panthers" are not recognized by science as a real animal. The black panthers you have likely seen are melanistic leopards or jaguars. Exactly what people are seeing remains a mystery as leopards are native to Africa and Asia and jaguars are thought to have been long extirpated from Texas. So, understand, that I do realize there is not supposed to be any such animal. Realize, too, that the term black panther is a colloquial term used in Texas meant to describe any large, black or very dark colored, long-tailed cat.
Now, on to the latest reports.
"I saw a large black cat cross the road today on 1243 in between Bynum,Texas and Brandon, Texas. It was bigger than my pit bull and had a very long tail. It crossed the road very quickly. I was amazed. I wish I had a dash cam to prove it. I would love to see it again."
TCH Comment: The sighting comes from an area east of I-35 and to the S-SW of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The area surrounding this massive metropolitan area continues to be a source of regular sightings of large black cats. Many dismiss these sightings due to their proximity to a large population center. I take a different view. While there has been much urban sprawl, things get very rural very quickly once you get outside of the city. AIso, it is only logical that sightings occur where there are people. After all, you cannot have sightings where there are no witnesses. I, too, wish Amanda had been running a dash cam when this incident occurred.
"I am a little more than 60% certain that I saw a jaguarundi while hiking through the northernmost part of Sam Houston NF, back in 1994. My then husband and I were on one of the wider parts of the trail -probably used for forest ranger and service vehicles- when our beagle dog started barking wildly. We looked where he was looking and saw what we at first thought was a black bear casually strolling across the trail, from east to west, about 150 feet from us. We didn't even look at each other or talk, we just stood there with our mouths open. As it entered the tree line on our left, we then saw the animal's tail flick upward, and we realized it was not a bear. My husband scooped up our dog into his arms and looked at me with eyes as big as saucers. Our beagle, sniffing wildly but no longer barking, went suddenly quiet and still. My husband whispered, "He's shaking." I whispered back, "Was that a cat??" He agreed -still whispering- that it looked like a panther. We then both realized at the same time that the constant birdsong and chirping from the west side of the forest had gone almost completely quiet. We didn't hesitate after that. Still carrying our dog, we both turned and ran back down the trail toward the trailhead. 22 years later I can still see it in my head: A VERY large cat, definitely black, tail suddenly flicking out behind it as it disappeared into the brush and tree line. Not as big as a mountain lion... But definitely twice the size of a domestic cat. It seemed to have legs shorter than what I'd expect to see in any cat of any size, but that may just be distorted memory or perspective."
TCH Comment: This is an interesting report as the witness speculates the cat in question was a jaguarundi. The actual description of the cat, and the visceral reaction she and her husband experienced, hint that the animal was much larger than what would be expected in this species. The cat may have been smaller than a mountain lion but this does not sound like a jaguarundi encounter to me. I know there are big cats in this area as I, myself, have seen a mountain lion in the Sam Houston National Forest. Stories of large black cats are common in Southeast Texas as well.
"I never knew what a jaguarundi was and didn't know there was no such thing as black panthers. We just got back from my deer lease doing some hog hunting and saw what I thought was a black panther chasing a bobcat in to a tree. It was in broad daylight so there was no mistaking it. We have a mountain lion out there but it isn't black as I've seen him up close. He jumped out a tree five feet away from me. After looking up photos of the jaguarundi I'm 1000% positive that is what it is. My lease is in Luling, TX in Guadalupe county. I know that's far from where they are supposed to be but I know that's what it is now. I was looking up black panthers in Texas because it looked too small to be as big as what I imagined a panther would be. And it was very long. When I saw it I said man that's a weird shaped cat. Long and short. But after seeing photos of the jaguarundi it all makes sense now."
TCH Comment: This is an interesting report and one I mulled over quite a bit before adding it here. The witness seems sure what he saw chasing a bobcat was a jaguarundi and his description of the cat would seem to support his identification. It is a bit odd that a jaguarundi would be chasing a bobcat. A full grown jaguarundi would only go 20-25 lbs. while a full grown bobcat could easily top 40 lbs. Maybe this was actualy a case of two cats at play and not an incident of aggression? I would also like to know more about what happened after the bobcat ran up the tree. What did the jaguarundi do next? It is true that this would be outside of accepted jaguarundi range but not that far outside. In my opinion, it is not outrageous to think a wayward cat could have made it as far north as Guadalupe County, though it would be highly unusual. The statements made by the witness about never having heard of a jaguarundi and not knowing black panthers are not supposed to exist are very common. I hear these statements from folks over and over again.
"I live in Bloomburg Texas which is right next to Queen City and Atlanta Texas. My dad came home one day after leaving for an errand. He told me on his way to town while passing through Queen City on FM 74 a black panther ran across the road and nearly got plowed by a sedan. That being said my landlord at the time who worked and owns chicken houses comes to check them every two hours. She would always tell me about the horrifying screaming from out behind them and that it sounds like a woman crying for help. I managed to get a picture of some tracks unfortunately don't have that phone anymore but I can say it was big enough to make any hardass run. I was also throwing out some garbage one night and on the way back inside I heard one at the end of the trailer. I hauled ass inside which is something I heard you're never supposed to do is run because it makes them think you're prey. But I think I broke my record lol."
TCH Comment: This is not an unusual encounter outside of the fact that it involved a cat that is not supposed to exist, just an animal crossing a road. In my mind, I have to keep the actual sighting report separate from the reports of screams coming from the woods. It is impossible to say for sure what animal was making those sounds since it was not actually seen. A lot of animals can make some absolutely terrifying noises and most people are not familiar enough with the sounds of the forest to know for sure what they are hearing. The screamer could have been a big cat but we just cannot say for sure so I will map the visual but leave the auditory encounter off.
"Hello I never believed there were black panthers or Jaguars in Texas until last year 2015 I was living near the Sam Houston national Forrest on the outskirts of Richards, TX and one night around 12am a friend of mine was leaving to go home and he was showing off a flash light he had bought he shined it across the road about a 100 yards up in the tree tops when we noticed to big green eyes probably 40' in a pine tree I ran and got my binoculars that's when I realized it was a huge black cat with green eyes black sleek fur my buddy then realized what we were looking at and said "is that what I think it is" without saying a word I ran and got my gun my buddy went and got his when he got back I was already propped up against my porch post when he shined back on the cat I shot in fear of the cat attacking me or someone or the livestock nearby I'm pretty sure I missed because I was so excited about it then my buddy shot still looking thru my scope I saw the cat jump to the ground and we could hear limbs breaking like we may have hit the cat still in shock we gathered ourselves and debated if we should go look to see if we hit it once we gathered up enough courage we walked across the road then about 50 yds. into the woods and once we got to the base of the bull Pine there was no cat but we noticed some broken dead limbs about 2-3 inches in diameter that looked freshly broke and on the trunk of the tree you could see bark missing on both sides all the way up it where it appeared to have climbed the tree we were so spooked we high tailed it out of there the next day I told my neighbor and she said that her dogs were acting very strange that night and she didn't doubt it because she had heard other people in the neighbor hood say they have also seen a big black cat in the past. I don't know if we hit the cat because I never did find blood just the freshly broken limbs and bark missing from the tree and judging from the tree which you could barley wrap both of your arms around the missing bark on both sides and the broken limbs this was no domestic cat this cat was huge and from then on I wouldn't let my dog get to far at night and if i was in my shop outside at night I kept a gun close bye. Call me crazy I don't care I know what I saw I have hunted my entire life and I Have never seen anything like this. I recently moved from the property about 6 months ago and I was happy to go."
Matt H****** (redacted by TCH)
TCH Comment: I have to admit to having some reservations about this report. I am very familiar with Richards and this part of the Sam Houston National Forest. It is heavily wooded and it would not surprise me in the least if a big cat were to be seen in this area. I do, however, have some problems with the account as written. Shining a flashlight at treetops 100 yards away? That is a long way off for even the most powerful of flashlights and to see eyeshine from that far away seems unlikely. Next, the witness claims to have retrieved binoculars and spotted the cat 40 feet up a pine tree. Remember, this animal was a reported 100 yards away and the time was about midnight. I find it hard to believe that anyone could see much of anything through binoculars at that time of night at that distance. Maybe the witness could address my concerns and set my mind at ease but, for now, I will be leaving this report off of my black panther distribution map.
"I saw a dark cougar or black panther in Hopkins County Texas in 1986. The cat was crossing the road along a creek."
TCH Comment: Simple and to the point, another road crossing. It is probably no coincidence that there was a creek nearby. Clearly, the animal made an impression on this witness as he still recalls it 30 years later.
For a look at my Black Panther Sightings Distribution Map, click here. Once there, you can click on each pin that represents a sighting and read a brief synopsis of what occurred.
Map source: http://naturalhistory.si.edu/mna/full_image.cfm?image_id=952