Saturday, January 9, 2016

The Latest Black Panther Reports (continued)

Following are a few more of the reports I have received over the last several months detailing sightings of anomalous big cats in Texas. Some of the reports involve sightings of normal tawny-colored mountain lions that are far outside of their accepted range. Other reports come in from witnesses who claim to have seen large, long-tailed, black cats, typically referred to as black panthers in my part of the world. I am attempting to get readers caught up on the backlog of reports that have accumulated while I was on a bit of a hiatus from the blog. As mentioned in a previous post, I will work backwards and report the latest sightings and work my way back to the older sightings. I do this on the off chance that interested parties might visit the areas of the sightings and possibly capture a photo or video footage of one of these animals should it still be prowling the area where it was initially reported.


“I also saw a cat that matches your description. It was autumn of 2005, I was driving on CR 532 approx. 2-3 miles from Gonzales toward Moulton, it was after work so approx. 5:15 - 5:30 pm, it crossed in front of me toward some old chicken houses on left. I was totally amazed he leapt from the side of road on right of me to middle of road and another jump he was on the side of the road so graceful and had a very large body it seemed to drop down from belly low toward ground.The size reminded me of adult german shepherd, But it in no way a dog.It was so beautiful the cat also had a bit of black stripey like marks of side of body. I was so graceful.and I told people and of course they did not believe. A year or so later I ran into the game warden that covers Gonzales area and told him about the cat. I dont know if it is his demeanor, but he seemed not to believe me.”

- Carole

TCH Comment: The sighting location would be considered the area where Central Texas gives way to South Texas. The area between Gonzalez and Moulton is lightly populated and dotted with stock ponds and small riparian greenbelts that run parallel to small creeks. The Guadalupe River winds its way through the area just a few miles back to the south-southwest. I have visited the area and have no problem believing a large cat could successfully make a home there. The description of the cat puzzles me a bit. The witness does not say specifically what color the cat was, only that it had “black stripey marks on the side of its body.” Since darker stripes were visible, I am assuming the cat was mainly light in color. That being the case, I must conclude this was a mountain lion. I really do not have a great explanation for the stripes described but everything else the witness mentions points to a cougar being the culprit here. The smooth graceful movement, size of a German shepherd and the way it dropped its belly close to the ground are all fit the classic description of a mountain lion. I can only posit that since the cat was seen during the winter months, perhaps its coat was a bit thicker in spots and this difference in the density of the fur caused some areas to be darker than others. Since this cat was not black or completely dark, I will not add it to my black panther distribution map. One more thing, I am not surprised at all by the reaction this witness received from the local game warden when she shared her experience.


“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.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Decatur sits roughly 30-40 miles northwest of Fort Worth on Highway 287. The area up and down 287 has been a regular source of sightings of large, black, long-tailed cats fitting the description of the classic “black panther.” I have no reason to doubt the account of the witness but the report is pretty light on details. That being the case, I will leave this report off my black panther distribution map.


“I saw a huge brown cat with big paws and a long thick tail cross the road in front of me a couple of weeks ago on FM 1509 near Brookston & Roxton Texas. I had to hit the brakes. I stopped to watch it run through the field but I couldn't find it. I backed up & searched again & still couldn't find it. I assumed it was crouched down in the grass somewhere near watching me. Another car approached so I had to move along. It was in the afternoon between 3:00 and 4:00. Such an odd time of day to see something like that. I have been searching the web looking at wild cat pictures and I can't find anything that color that is that huge.”

- Linda T*******

TCH Comment: The Roxton/Brookston area sits roughly 50-60 miles to the northeast of Dallas and only about 30 miles south of the Red River. It is rural, lightly populated and could easily support a large cougar-sized predator. The witness did not go to great lengths to describe the overall size of the cat but her assertion that it was “huge” with “big paws and a long thick tail” certainly gets my attention. I would have liked to hear a bit more about the color, however; she describes the cat as brown, which leads me to believe this was not a typically colored mountain lion. Why? First, the witness reports it was between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon. The light would have been good enough that there should have been no mistaking a normal honey blonde-colored cougar for something much darker. Second, almost everyone is familiar with what a mountain lion looks like. Even if folks who have never seen a cougar in person have seen them countless times in movies, wildlife shows or magazines. She never once uses the term mountain lion or cougar to describe what she saw. I think that is telling. The report also takes on a bit more credibility in my eyes due to the fact that the witness included her full name (I redacted the last name myself). This is always a good sign. I will be adding this sighting to my black panther distribution map.

That will have to do for now. I will continue to update the blog with the sightings that have come in to me until I get caught up. In the meantime, keep sending the reports in to me. I will be updating the distribution map soon and creating a new map/list of sightings by county as well.

Also, I have received several reports from readers that included photos. I am in the process of examining them and will be showcasing them on the blog soon. Keep your eyes open for those.

Until then, my best to you and yours.