Texas Gardening forum: A panther in Texas? Or maybe a Black Cougar or Jaguar.

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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
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dave
Oct 31, 2011 11:12 AM CST

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Yesterday we saw a big black cat on our property. It was very big, much much bigger than a house cat, bigger than a bobcat, too. And it was solid black. I was out there with all the children and we all got a very good long look at it.

It was close by and we watched it run across the pasture away from us and jump over the fence. My first thought was that it was a panther, but we apparently don't have panthers in Texas. My research suggests that what we have is a black jaguar or black cougar. I didn't know either of these existed before doing this reading.

I thought ya'll would be interested in the story. I'll post again if we see it again!
[Last edited by dave - Oct 31, 2011 6:15 AM (+)]
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Name: Lee Anne Stark
Brockville, Ontario, Canada (Zone 5a)
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threegardeners
Oct 31, 2011 11:24 AM CST
oh Wow! How cool s that...maybe start carrying the camera?

Did you go over to the area it was spotted after and see if it left tracks?
Name: Marylyn
Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
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Marylyn
Oct 31, 2011 11:46 AM CST
Wow!! How neat! I hope you figure out what it was for sure.
Name: Marylyn
Houston, TX (Zone 9a)
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Marylyn
Oct 31, 2011 11:52 AM CST
According to this: http://www.thehighroad.org/archive/index.php/t-188816.html it was probably a cougar. Apparently their population is growing in your part of the state.
Name: Veronica Dykes
central Texas
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BettyDee
Oct 31, 2011 12:17 PM CST
It's too bad you didn't have a camera with you. There are a few cougars that roam this area and one of our neighbors has had a calf killed by what he says was a black panther (cougar or leopard?). He said the damage to the calf is unmistakeable — a torn out abdomen. There are plenty of stories around here about black panther. We saw a regular cougar cross the main FM road into town early this spring. So why not a black cougar.

Our USDA and state park biologists may not know what is and what is not here or what these animals can do. I recently lost a newborn 55 lb. heifer to a mixed flock of Black Vultures and Caracaras. The ranger with whom I spoke insisted they are scavengers only, but these guys killed my heifer and have been pecking at my other newborn calves. My DH has seen Caracaras circle the tractor and pick rabbits off the ground as they run away from the moving tractor.
VLD
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Oct 31, 2011 2:05 PM CST

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And I was afraid of walking up on a coyote! I'd be toting a firearm if I saw a big cat. Actually I'd be staying inside until someone else removed it. I don't like guns.
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Nov 1, 2011 6:17 PM CST
Well, drought has brought predators closer to humans. Still, I wouldn't count out an escaped animal. That Ohio incident comes to mind.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
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Name: Stephanie Gonzales
Texas (Zone 8a)
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StephGTx
Nov 1, 2011 7:03 PM CST
Dave Confused I'm sure you got a real good look and know what you saw, but is it a possibility that you could've had a black bobcat out there. They are in your area as well as mine. Shrug!

Ooops, you said it wasn't a bobcat. Sorry.

My BFF is from Jacksonville and said that her mother claimed to see a 'black panther' on several occasions as she was growing up. She said they would set out traps but never got any thing.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
[Last edited by StephGTx - Nov 1, 2011 2:08 PM (+)]
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Name: Kristi
east Texas pineywoods (Zone 8a)
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pod
Nov 1, 2011 7:19 PM CST
There has never been a documented case of a black cougar, commonly called panthers. In all these years, there has not been one trapped, killed or even caught on a game camera that was black.

There has not even been a melanistic stage documented in cougars in the northern hemisphere. A friend that is a vocational ag instructor and hunter education instructor assigned a research project to his students to see if they could find any evidence (online or in books) of a black panther/cougar. No verified documentation was found, only tales of sightings. I've listened to many game and wildlife biologists discuss this matter at length.

There are indeed, cougars in this area and we have personally seen two in daylight hours over our years in Texas. Many acquaintances have also seen evidence of cougars and for the most part they are not aggressive. They primarily hunt small game like birds and rabbits. If they attack larger livestock taking an animal down from the hindquarters.

The black jaguar has been known to range far into the US but it would be a much smaller cat both in stature and body weight.

On the other hand, I am a believer. I am fascinated by the many tales that I've heard and hope someday that someone will be able to verify the black cougars' existance. Hopefully not by having to kill one.

Glad you were able to see something that many people will never have a chance to witness.


Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Nov 8, 2011 7:56 AM CST

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Well, an update for you all. I saw the cat again, this time plenty close.

It's definitely smaller than a cougar but larger than a feral cat. I can only guess this is a black bobcat, or else just a really, really big feral cat.

Regardless, the matter is resolved. With children, chickens, calves, etc around here, I couldn't take the chance of letting it stay.
Name: Stephanie Gonzales
Texas (Zone 8a)
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StephGTx
Nov 8, 2011 7:59 AM CST
Glad to know you are all safe. They can unintentionally cause harm.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
Name: Sandi
Austin, Tx (Zone 8b)
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Bubbles
Nov 8, 2011 10:25 AM CST

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I agree

PUGHBEAR7
Dec 27, 2011 12:47 PM CST
Dave that’s really cool. I watched a show on central and south american cats and it seems they are expanding up into Texas and further north. The point was made that what happens is the female has kittens and then when they get big enough they go out and claim their own territory. What it said was that population of the puma, jaguar has been on the rise and they are being forced to move into new areas that are not their typical area.

Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Dec 27, 2011 1:00 PM CST

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It certainly is very exciting, but I have to admit to having mixed feelings about any large cats moving into a populated area!

Welcome! to ATP by the way!
Name: Linda
Medina Co., TX (Zone 8a)
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LindaTX8
Dec 29, 2011 10:09 PM CST
I just heard that there was a mountain lion that was killed by a rancher in my county.
I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. E. B.White
Integrity can never be taken. It can only be given, and I wasn't going to give it up to these people. Gary Mowad
Name: Sheila F
Fort Worth TX (Zone 8a)
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Sheila_FW
Jan 12, 2012 12:13 AM CST
Can't resist putting this out here. Fort Worth is known as "Cowtown" more now, but used to be called "Panther City".
http://sleepingpanther.com/ There are several articles on this site.
Name: Christine
North East Texas (Zone 7b)
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wildflowers
Dec 21, 2013 2:36 PM CST
Okay, I'm not the only one! My dh doesn't believe me and is somehow not here when I see it!

This is the second time this year that I've seen what looks like either a very large black feral cat or a small wildcat, like a panther. Both times during the day. Around the times that I saw this large black cat, my free range chickens were hiding inside the coop. Actually, yesterday, three hens were crammed underneath a wagon holding firewood that's sitting on the back porch. I thought maybe a hawk was around because the crows have been barking at something. I went and checked and sure enough the rest of the hens and rooster were hiding in the coop.

A short time later, the dogs, who were all sitting in front of the window looking out across the back of the property, began barking like crazy. So I look to see and there was a big black cat slinking down in a crouched walk across a path in the distance. I let the dogs out and they went running and barking. I'm sure they scared the cat off.

Thinking about it, I knew it was much bigger than our cat and it had a big tail that was probably as long as it was. Then I remembered seeing a similar cat during the summer (the chickens were nervous and hiding in the coop at that time also) when the dogs chased it up a tree in the woods. When I went out to see, it was gone, maybe jumping from tree to tree to escape?

Also, one night about a month ago the dogs went running after something that sounded like a cougar. It was dark so I couldn't see what it was but it sounded exactly like a cougar. I called the dogs back, fearing they may get hurt. As a reference, it sounded like this: http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-reporting/mountai...
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Name: David Reaves
Austin, TX (Zone 8b)
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david_reaves
Feb 14, 2014 3:16 PM CST
Dave,

Did your cat look anything like this one? Apparently it was captured and is in residence at the Busch Wildlife Center in Florida.

http://www.cryptomundo.com/wp-content/uploads/blackbobcatd.j...

David R
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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dave
Feb 14, 2014 3:27 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

It didn't. I'm thinking it was just a feral cat.
Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Feb 14, 2014 4:29 PM CST
Dave ....

If you have rabies in your area, feral cats can be as dangerous to your children as any big cat. There was a lady up here that regularly fed the feral cats around her place and one of her "regulars" bit her. Her husband caught the cat and it was tested and found to have rabies. She had to go through all of the shots ... not a pleasant experience.

We often have cougars coming to town. Usually, they are young males that are seeking new territory and are inefficient hunters. I think they are drawn by the large population of deer that live in town.

Last fall when I went out to a friend's place to gather leaves for mulch, she carried her gun because there has been a cougar hanging around her place. He's still around and now, she can't even go out to her greenhouse without carrying a gun. She's removed brush, installed all kinds of lighting to light up the area around the house at night, and this cat just keeps coming back. He is no longer afraid of people and the simply makes him more dangerous.

Take care.

Lyn
I'd rather weed than dust ... the weeds stay gone longer.

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