Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Historical Black Panther Sighting, a Lesson Learned, and a Photo

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, I will be making an effort to get caught up on several black panther sightings that were sent in to me over the last year or so. I was neck deep in trying to finish my book, Valley of the Apes: The Search for Sasquatch in Area X, and struggled to find the time to update all of you on these sightings. I am making the effort to correct that now. Following are a few sighting reports and one photo that I found interesting.


Reported November 20, 2022

My name is Greg XXXXXX and I live in Lexington Tx. Around 1987 I was leaving the Alcoa aluminum plant through the contractor construction gate approximately 5:00 pm. Can’t remember the exact date. I started driving north on Hwy 1786 towards Hwy 79 beside the Alcoa hot lake as it was called where the water from the power plant was released into. Right in front of me approximately 100 feet was a large black panther crossing the road. I got a real good look at him. He was as big as a full-grown mountain lion but appeared to a little thinner in build. I have seen a large mountain lion from my tree stand before while hunting near Milano so I can make the comparison accurately. I would have to guess the panther weighed between 130 and 150 lbs.


TCH Comment: This is a very believable and matter-of-fact report. The witness saw the cat clearly at close range and is familiar with what a mountain lion looks like. There are no signs of hyperbole in the report and I have ruled out mistaken identity. I believe this witness saw what he claims to have seen. 


The location of the sighting is rural and there are sufficient resources for a big cat to survive in the area. If one takes the time to zoom in on the sighting location, it becomes obvious water resources are plentiful. This is something that would be absolutely critical for any predator trying to survive in Central Texas. I find the report credible and will be adding it to my Black Panther Sightings Distribution Map.


Reported 6/22/22

"I saw a dead black panther on the right shoulder of the westbound lanes of I44E approximately 5 miles east of the Stroud sign on the Turner turnpike about 6:50pm Sunday, 6/5/2022. 


A cat is so obvious it cannot be mistaken. I saw the large paws, long legs, square head. It was in a dead pose, legs toward the street and back towards the grass, head facing west. I considered pulling off the road, essentially to gawk, but decided the safety considerations weren't worth the reasons. Had I known then that people don't believe big cat sightings, I would have pulled over. My 10-year-old son saw it too. My step daughter was in the car and she didn't see it, she was looking at her phone. 


With so many pick-up trucks in Oklahoma, I wonder if someone took it home, or if wildlife management can document it. I wonder if the toll pass cameras record what is in people's truck beds? 


I haven't followed up with wildlife management, but I am curious if there are others to corroborate.” 


Kathleen XXXXXX

Edmond, Oklahoma



TCH Comment: I will not be placing this sighting on my distribution map, but it isn’t because I do not believe the witness; rather, it is because she was traveling along the highway at a substantial rate of speed (likely 70-80 mph based on my experience on the Turnpike in question). While her description matches up well with historical reports of black panthers, the chance of misidentification while moving at such a clip is simply too great for me to feel totally confident.


The lesson here is to pull that vehicle over and pick that carcass up. If you aren’t comfortable with that, take lots of photos.


Reported: 6/2/22

Hi, my name is Caleb I live in south east Missouri. I just listened to an Expanded Perspectives episode about the black cats in Texas, or something like that, and I just wanted to share my story with you because I’ve had a very close encounter with a panther, a buddy of mine - his dad actually - killed a panther due to it messing with livestock. He actually had the head and pelt for a while. I’ve had other encounters with them while hunting and such but that was the closest that I’ve ever been to one. During the podcast you stated some people say that they have leopard-like spots on them. I can say that I do remember the spots on the pelt of this particular pelt. Let me know if you have any questions. I will try to answer them the best I can. 


Thanks for reading." 


TCH Comments: This is another account that I will not be mapping. I have heard multiple accounts of people killing a panther and keeping the pelt. Yet, there are absolutely no photos. Without a picture, this is just hearsay and I don’t feel good about placing the incident on my map. The witness claims other encounters but does not share any details regarding them. This doesn’t mean the witness is being untruthful, just that I don’t have enough details to feel good about adding it to my map.


I will wrap up this post with a photo sent to me from Mr. Brandon Darr. Brandon felt that the photo illustrated the different shading/coloration individual cougars can exhibit nicely and I agree with him. The only information on the photo itself is that it was allegedly “taken in Northern Mexico.” Since I’m posting it here only to show how different cougars can vary in the shade of their coats, it isn’t really relevant where it was taken.

The cats on the left and in the middle are clearly much darker in coloration that the cat on the right. I would guess the cat on the right is displaying the normal tawny-colored coat we are all used to seeing. The two on the left are much darker, especially on their dorsal surfaces. They are not, however, chocolate-colored or black. We can be sure of this by looking at the contrast in darkness between their backs/the ends of their tails and the rest of their bodies. If they were all black or dark brown, their bodies would be much more uniform in color, like the lighter-colored cougar on the right. Seeing darker-colored cougars in low light conditions could very well explain some black panther sightings.

If you would like to dig deeper into the black panther phenomenon, you might consider picking up a copy of my book, Shadow Cats: The Black Panthers of North America. In it, you get a thorough overview of the phenomenon, my thoughts on what these animals might be, interviews with big cat experts, and more. You can pick up a copy at the link above or, if you would like a signed copy, you can contact me at Texascryptidhunter@yahoo.com. 

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