Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to pause and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I appreciate everyone of you who stop by to read my thoughts from time to time. You are much appreciated.

Things have been a bit crazy for me of late but I hope to get back to posting more regularly once the holiday season is over.

Until then, my best to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Field Report: Ellis County, TX

Yesterday, I managed to make a long overdue trip up to my study site in Ellis County, Texas. I have had cameras on the property off and on for about two years now. The property owner originally contacted me after multiple family members had seen large cats on the property (one tawny-colored mountain lion and one large long-tailed black cat) and several of the horses on the property came up with injuries that resembled deep claw marks and puncture wounds on their haunches and necks. To date, I have captured one intriguing video of an animal I cannot identify but nothing else unusual. I have tons of photos of feral hogs, raccoons, opossums, coyotes and a few of bobcats. Interestingly, I have not one single shot of a white-tailed deer.

My arsenal of game cameras has become quite depleted over the last few years. Some have worn out and stopped working properly. Some have been destroyed in high water events. Still other cameras have been stolen. For the last few months I have had only one camera on the property, a Cuddeback Ambush model. I was several weeks past due on checking this camera and anxious to look at what it might have captured. Also, I recently had two older Reconyx cameras (an RC55 and an RC60) repaired and upgraded and was ready to get them back out into the field. All that being the case, I set out for Ellis County excited at the prospect of having better coverage of the property once the reconditioned Reconyx cameras were deployed.

Upon arrival, the first order of business was getting the two reconditioned cameras set out. I found two locations that I am very excited about. Both cameras will be overlooking spots where well-worn game trails intersect. The trails run very close to a major creek in a heavily wooded section of the property. There are ample food sources and several dens, belonging to several different species, were found while scouting the potential camera locations. I anticipate getting some nice photos of whatever roams around those woods. Once the two Reconyx cameras were placed, secured with camouflaged steel cables and padlocks and activated, we moved to the location of the Cuddeback Ambush camera in order to download what photos and/or video it might have captured over the last two months.

I was disappointed in the number of events the camera was able to capture. The spot over which the camera watched, apparently, is not the busy animal thoroughfare I thought it was when I placed it. Even so, I got some nice shots of a couple of very large feral hogs and some coyotes. One of the hog shots is interesting as it shows this very large pig leaping into the air. I am not sure why it was doing so as there is no debris in that spot that could not be negotiated simply by stepping over. Maybe it was feeling its oats that night. In any case, it is a fun photo. A couple of the coyote shots interested me as the animal(s) photographed is travelling with its tail straight out behind it in a horizontal position . This is a characteristic of wolves, not coyotes, which usually travel with their tails down below the level of their backs. Do not misunderstand me, as I am not claiming the canid photographed is a red wolf. I do feel, however, that it could be a sign that the coyotes in this particular area have some red wolf lineage to them.

By far the most interesting item captured by the Cuddeback is a short video showing an animal of some kind in a tree. The animal is a rusty color and, though mostly obscured by foliage and branches, clearly negotiating a tree branch in the upper right hand portion of the video. There appears to be the flip of a tail, or some other appendage, toward the end of the video. The tail, if that is what it is, appears too thick and puffy to be that of a cat, in my opinion. The animal is close to the same color as the coyotes photographed. Could a coyote be up in this tree? Not impossible, I suppose, but not the likeliest of explanations either. I feel a red fox is a possibility. I know foxes have a limited ability to climb trees and they are native to the area. Admittedly, I have never captured a photo of a fox (red or gray) on the property and the animal in the video seems a bit large to be a fox (you’ll have to take my word on this as I am familiar with the tree in which this animal is moving). It is a bit of a head scratcher but enjoyable to ponder. Maybe the culprit will return now that the leaves have dropped and it would be easier to identify. The video is below. Again, keep your eyes on the upper right hand quadrant of the video.

Overall, it was a very good trip. The property owners and I have become good friends and it is always nice to visit with them. Time outdoors is always a good thing as well and does more to recharge me than just about anything else. The only negative I took away was the quality of some of the video shot by the Cuddeback Ambush camera. The video of the last few events captured was of very poor quality. So much so that it was hard to tell what you were looking at on the screen. I am hoping this is a result of the batteries having been very low (I was more than a month overdue in changing them) and not some flaw in this almost brand new camera. Time will tell, I suppose.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Robert M. Pyle, PhD on the Sasquatch

I am having trouble finding the time necessary to write any in depth posts (basketball season) so I have been posting some quotes that I like or feel are relevant to the cryptozoological field. I should have a "real" post up soon but, in the meantime, enjoy this quote from Robert M. Pyle, Phd in regards to the possible existence of the sasquatch or wood ape.

“There is no prevailing model of anthropology and zoology, I would suggest, that eliminates the possibility, let alone the likelihood, of bigfoot. Not on an evolutionary ground, not on a bio-geographical ground, not on an ecological ground, not on a metabolic ground. The only thing that keeps scientists, I think, from putting their necks out and saying this is something worth our looking into is their own fear of ridicule.”

- Robert M. Pyle, PhD

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

For Your Consideration...

I thought I would share a couple of my favorite quotes with you. Both of these quotes were made by noted researchers of cryptozoological phenomenon concerning their particular areas of interest; however, I have always felt these quotes were applicable in a much broader sense. Current events have only strengthened that sentiment. I present them for your consideration below.

“Most of us dislike having to change our opinions. So, while facts are facts, objectionable ones are often deliberately misinterpreted."

- Ivan T. Sanderson

“Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but no one has a right to be wrong about the facts. Without the facts, your opinion is of no value.”

- Rene Dahinden

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Thanksgiving Message

With so much bad going on in the world, it is easy to forget how blessed we are to live in this great nation. Wars, and rumors of war, terrorist groups, the toxic political climate, race issues and more threaten to overwhelm us. With so many negative things surrounding us, it is easy to fall into a pit where we cannot see the good that does exist in this world.

Don’t let that happen to you.

Do you have air in your lungs? Be thankful.

Is your heart beating? Be thankful.

Do you have a dry and warm place to lay your head at night? Be thankful.

Do you have a friend? Even one? Be thankful.

I believe that as long as we are living there is hope that we can make this world a better place. If you are feeling low, do something for someone else. It doesn’t have to be something big and grand, just something that blesses another, if only for a moment. If you are feeling down, helping someone else out will make you feel better. I promise it will put things in perspective. Once you look at your life from the proper perspective, you will see there is so much for which to be thankful.

So, be grateful, be kind to one another and do not dwell on the negatives out there in the world. Once you do, you will realize you are blessed and will develop a thankful attitude. This attitude will permeate your life and you will not feel a need to try and count your blessings, as if they are finite in number.

After all, who can count that high?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Wisdom of George Gill, PhD

I can't add much to this. I will say only that it makes a lot of sense to me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Black Panther Photographed in American South?

Has a black panther been photographed in the American South?


I found the image included in this post on a hunting forum. According to what I read there, the photo was taken via game camera somewhere in the woods of Alabama. The gentleman who posted the photo felt it was proof that “black panthers,” a colloquial term used to describe any and all long-tailed black cats, were real. Mainstream science, as has been mentioned here countless times over the years, denies the existence of these legendary mystery cats.

According to wildlife officials, the only New World big cat that exhibits melanism is the jaguar (Panthera onca). While the historic range of the jaguar once included much of the American Southwest and South, these big cats are thought to be almost completely extirpated from North America. Jaguars are recognized to live in South America, Central America and Mexico with a few stragglers occasionally venturing across the border into the Southwest United States (Arizona and New Mexico). This being the case, along with the fact that there has never been a documented instance of a melanistic mountain lion (Felis concolor), would seem to shut the door on the existence of the legendary black panther. Yet, people continue to report sightings and even capture intriguing photographic evidence like the image accompanying this post.

Some supporters feel the jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi) is a candidate for the black panthers so often reported. The jaguarundi is a small, wild cat native to Central and South America. The habitat of this species is thought to extend into Mexico with most individuals located in the Yucatan Peninsula or along the Pacific and/or Gulf Coasts. The jaguarundi has been known to slip across the Rio Grande and up into Texas but keeps to the extreme southern portion of the Lone Star State where it is extremely rare. According to the Mammals of Texas – Online Edition, the jaguarundi has only been officially documented in Cameron, Hidalgo, Starr and Willacy counties. Many, many Texans would disagree with this and feel this small wild cat’s range extends up through the Hill Country and up along the Gulf Coast as far north as Jefferson County. The problem with the jaguarundi as the suspect behind black panther sightings is the small size and distinctive appearance of this cat. While the jaguarundi does go through a black/charcoal phase, the overall description given by most black panther witnesses would seem to eliminate this animal as the mystery cat in question.

Now, back to the photo.

The subject is quite obviously a cat of some kind. I do not think anyone would dispute that. Too, at least from the perspective we have, it would appear to be larger than what would normally be seen in a feral/domestic. The length of the subject is more impressive to my eye than the height. Also, the cat in the photo is very thick through the chest and mid-section. Most ferals do not appear this hardy. The characteristic long tail, with thick rounded tip that is so often reported by people claiming to have seen black panthers, is clearly visible. I think it is also quite clear that this animal is black. It is not a trick of light or a case where the animal is in shadow giving the illusion of melanism. From what I can tell, and I will be the first to admit that I am no expert, the photo appears genuine. In addition, the forest in which this photo was taken looks like southern woods. The terrain looks very much like the forested areas that run from east Texas eastward across the south. The picture certainly looks like it could have been taken in the woods of Alabama. All of these factors being what they are, I can say it is one of the more intriguing alleged black panther photos I have seen in some time.

Having said that, there are still some problems with the photo, first and foremost among them being the who, when and where behind the image. Who took it? The gentleman on the forum went by a user name that was obviously not his given name. When was the photo taken? Where exactly? My requests for more information have remained unanswered. Also, some of the common earmarks almost always seen on photos taken by trail cameras are missing. It is rare, indeed, to see a photo taken by a game camera that does not have a date and time stamp on it. Most cameras these days also feature a temperature stamp and their company logo as well. These hallmarks are missing here which leads me to believe that the photo was edited in some way. It is possible the image was simply cropped a bit to exclude this data. This would make sense if the owner’s name appeared on the image as it often does on many models. If that is all there is to it, then the cropping is understandable; however, the possibility that there is some sort of agenda of a more nefarious nature behind the cropping must at least be considered at this time.

Another problem with the photo is scale (doesn’t that always seem to be the case?). The cat in the photo certainly looks to be larger than a domestic/feral but we know nothing about how high the camera was mounted, the angle at which it was set, etc. These are factors that can truly affect what we are seeing. For example, the tree to the right of the cat appears to be pretty large in diameter in the photo. The impression one gets is that the cat is walking right by it. That is not quite the case, though. The tree to the right is actually in the foreground and closer to the camera than the cat. If the cat were right next to the tree then we would be seeing where the tree meets the ground. We cannot see that in this picture, therefore, the tree must be in the foreground. The subject has already walked by the tree and is now well past it. How far past? It is hard to say. If the cat is just a step or two past the tree then it would seem the animal is pretty big. If the cat is five or six feet past the tree, then maybe it is not that large at all. That being the case, we cannot really make a definitive call on the size of the animal.

So, once again, we have a photo that is intriguing but inconclusive. It is too bad that the cat is walking away from the camera (again, doesn’t that always seem to be the case?). Otherwise, we might be able to make a judgment on what we are seeing. A jaguar has a massive head, for example, and is very different structurally from a mountain lion. A jaguarundi has a very distinctive head shape as well and would be pretty easy to identify. I will say that I do not feel we are looking at a jaguarundi. The cat in this photo is thickly built and is simply not put together like a jaguarundi, which is a very slender and has an almost weasel-like appearance. I think there are only two real possibilities as to the identity of the cat in this photo. It could be a large feral/domestic that is very robust and is being made to look larger than it really is due to a trick of perspective or…

… it could be the animal that we have all been seeking.

*If there is anyone out there that knows the story behind this photo, please contact me at

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ode to a Dog

Yesterday, I buried my dog.

Maggie came to us almost twelve years ago. She was not the type of dog many of you might picture me owning. She was not a Labrador Retriever or a bulldog. She was not a bird dog or any other kind of hunting dog. Neither was she a “manly” breed like a Pit Bull, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd or Rottweiler. Maggie was a Westie, a West Highlands White Terrier, to be specific.

Why a Westie? Simply, because that is what my little girl wanted. My daughter, 8 years old at the time, had seen a Westie on a dog food commercial and fell in love with the breed. When we finally decided that she was old enough to help take care of a dog, she made it abundantly clear that she wanted a Westie . My youngest daughter was only 3 at the time and just wanted a “puppy dog.” The breed didn’t seem to matter much to her. That being the case, it was settled. A Westie it would be.

I looked around a bit and found a lady that bred Westies in Kempner, only 30 minutes or so from our house. She had a litter of puppies that were almost ready to leave their mother and said we could come pick one out. We loaded up the girls and headed out to Kempner to inspect the litter. My oldest daughter had a broken foot at the time and was in a hard cast and had a difficult time getting up the porch steps of the house while on her crutches. Once inside, she sat down and looked at the white mass of squirming, running and playing baby Westies with a huge snaggle-toothed grin on her face. I had done my homework on the breed and was carefully picking up and inspecting each pup. If I was going to shell out the amount of money this lady wanted for a puppy, I was going to be sure I had the best one out of the litter. As I was inspecting the strongest and healthiest-looking puppies a tiny and timid pup, no doubt the runt of the litter, belly crawled out from between a cabinet and a chair toward my oldest daughter. The pup gave my daughter’s exposed toes (sticking out of the cast) a quick lick. My girl picked up this tiny, timid female and our fate was sealed. It turns out we did not pick out a puppy that day, the puppy picked us.

It was settled that this would be our Maggie. It would be another month before she was weaned and ready to come home with us (Try explaining that whole concept to a 3 year old that wants her puppy dog “right now”). The month came and went quickly, however, and we retrieved Maggie. She had grown quite a bit, but was still small for a Westie. That was ok with us, though. She seemed at home right away. There was no whining or crying at night or any other signs of her being homesick. She was home and she seemed to know it.

I could tell you many funny stories about our Maggie. She made us laugh and was a constant source of joy for us. She never failed to greet each and every family member with unbridled enthusiasm, jumping and hopping up and down until she received the attention she sought. Maggie loved belly rubs and would flop over on her back anytime her name was called hoping you would indulge her. We used to joke that she was part turtle as she often had trouble flipping back over after one of these belly rubs. She also loved to play. I have never known a dog that loved to play as much as Maggie did. The game really didn’t matter much to her. She would chase a ball all day, play tug-of-war with almost any object or just wrestle with your hand. She loved it all and kept her puppy-like enthusiasm for almost all of her years.

Recently, Maggie really slowed down. At first, we thought age had simply started to catch up to her. In a way, I suppose, it had. Three days ago, Maggie was diagnosed with a severe liver disorder. The veterinarian prescribed some meds but warned us that her prognosis was not good. We gave her the meds and she seemed to perk up almost immediately. We were encouraged as she ate better that night than she had in days and drank water without being coaxed to do so. Maggie retreated to her beloved crate that night to sleep, acting like she felt better than she had in a long time. When we woke up yesterday morning, however, things had changed. Maggie seemed to have lost 5 lbs. overnight. Her eyes were bloodshot and red and she could not seem to close her mouth. The change in her from the night before was stunning. I loaded her up and returned to the vet immediately. I was waiting at the door, holding her, when they opened at 7:30. The vet began working on her immediately but I knew that this was it. Maggie was a loving dog but had no problem letting you know she did not like being poked, prodded or stuck with a needle. She was a terrier, after all. As the doctor worked on her she completely surrendered. There was no fight left in her. She looked at me with very sick eyes and I knew it was time to let her go. The vet agreed and within minutes, she was gone.

The vet asked what I wanted to do with her body and without hesitation I managed to choke out, “I want to take her home.” So, I did. I was thankful that no one was home as I dug her grave in the backyard. This big tough coach/cryptid hunter was anything but during that time. I wrapped Maggie in her favorite blanket and laid her in a small box with her favorite toy. I then placed the box in the deeper than it needed to be hole (I think I kept digging because I knew what I would have to do when I was finished). Putting that first shovel of dirt on top of that box was hard. I knew it would be but… it was much tougher than I ever would have imagined. Once the grave was covered, I retrieved some bricks, left over from the building of our house more than ten years ago, and laid them in a rectangular pattern on top of the grave. These bricks would allow us to always know exactly where our Maggie was laid to rest. I knew I would likely have to redo this once the dirt settled but I did not want my girls to see only a mound of recently disturbed dirt when they came home. I wanted it to be as nice as possible.

My wife cried all day. My oldest daughter, now 20 and away at college, was devastated. My youngest daughter, now 15 and unable to remember a time when Maggie was not in her life, was inconsolable. Maggie was the dog of their childhood. The dog that slept at the foot of their bed when they were sick, the dog they slipped food to under the table and the dog that they played with for countless hours both inside and out. Maggie is the dog they will always remember. Even so, Maggie really turned into my dog as the years passed. Mine was the lap she sought out at night, mine was the side of the bed she came to in the morning when she knew she would be allowed to nap for that last hour on the bed between my wife and I and it was me she stood in the window watching for in the evening. I will miss that little white face with the jackrabbit ears in the window when I come home at night.

I know there is much in the world that is more tragic than the loss of a pet but to trivialize such an event is a mistake. Loss is loss and a good dog is worth its weight in gold. Maggie was a good dog and she was mine.

I will miss her.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Big Thicket is a Weird Place

Here is an interesting account from noted author, teacher and philosopher A.Y. Gunter. It just goes to show that the Big Thicket has always been a unique place. Stories of wild men, remnant bands of Karankawas, wood apes, black panthers, ghost lights and Ol' Mossyback continue to come out of this region. The area is truly a Texas treasure.

"The two-legged hairless ape should be mentioned in any Big Thicket inventory. Of this species, the most spectacular are those which hide in the deep woods seeking sanctuary from the outer world. The most famous of these is the Nude Man of the Big Thicket, who lived there in the 1950s. Several people had glimpsed the man. Then one fine day a Mr. Sutton encountered him on a lonely road. The hermit announced that if anyone wanted to come in after him they would have to come in shooting. He was a large man, deeply tanned and hairy, with a long beard. He had a gun in each hand, and was naked. So far as is known, no one "went in after him" though there are stories of the subsequent capture of an escaped mental patient who had lived for nine years in the Thicket on wild fruits and armadillo. Whether the two hermits are one and the same is ---- well, as usual, the facts get a little vague on that point."

- A.Y. Gunter

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Could Red Wolves Still Roam Texas?

The red wolf (Canis rufus) once roamed a large part of the southeastern part of North America. The range of the red wolf once stretched from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts northward into Indiana and the Ohio River Valley. This long-legged canid also inhabited areas stretching from central Pennsylvania to Missouri and central Texas. The red wolf was an apex predator that could successfully make a living in forests, swamps or prairies. Now, however, it is all but gone. Most scientists feel the species went extinct in the wild in the early 1980’s. The last red wolves known to have lived in Texas were documented by John Paradiso. He noted that seven specimens taken from Chambers County near Anahuac between 1963 and 1964 and one specimen taken from Kennedy County near Armstrong in 1961 were full-blooded red wolves. Subsequent specimens taken from the eastern portion of the Lone Star State have all been found to be large coyotes.

Debate has raged among biologists as to whether the red wolf went extinct in the traditional sense. What I mean by that is that many believe, as their numbers dwindled, red wolves interbred with coyotes (Canis latrans). This continued long enough that full-blooded wolves disappeared, leaving only a sort of coyote/wolf mutt here in Texas. It has been documented that many, if not most, coyotes in Texas carry at least some red wolf genetics. This confirms that this interbreeding took place and took place often. Some scientists feel that the red wolf was nothing but a hybrid in the first place, albeit a fertile one that was able to reproduce; the offspring of coyotes and gray wolves. The taxonomy of the red wolf is a topic for another post and I do not want to get bogged down in that right now. The important thing to note here is that due to a combination of hunting, aggressive predator control practices, habitat destruction and increasingly extensive hybridization with coyotes, the red wolf has disappeared forever from Texas.

Or has it?

Reports continue to filter in from rural Texas of wolves stalking the woods, creeks, swamps and prairies. These witnesses will stress to you that they are wolves and not coyotes. A lot of these folks will tell you that they have popped many a coyote while protecting their stock and know the difference between what they have taken in the past and a wolf. Wildlife biologists disagree and say these predators have been extirpated. After all, they say, if they were still here there would be photos of them. Case closed.

Or is it?

There are some pretty interesting photos out there that seem to indicate that the red wolf might not be completely gone after all. I will explore three different sets of photos in this post. One set, in my opinion, is likely a coy dog, the identity of the canid in one photo is debatable and, finally, one set of photos seems to clearly show a red wolf-like animal.

I recently obtained a couple of photos, that came from a gentleman living near Meridian, of a dead canid that he feels is a red wolf. As you can see in the photo below, the animal has some wolf-like characteristics. In my opinion, however, this is likely some sort of shepherd mix or possibly a coy dog (coyote/domestic hybrid). The animal does have pointed ears but they appear narrower than what I would expect to see in a red wolf. The muzzle is larger than that of a coyote but more rounded in appearance than I would expect in a red wolf. Certainly, the Meridian specimen appears thick in the neck and through the chest like a wolf but the coloring is more like that of a German shepherd. I admit that the eyes of the specimen have the narrow appearance that would be expected in a wolf but it must be kept in mind that could be because we are looking at a dead animal. The animal appears quite large, and I have been assured that the Meridian specimen stretched from the hunter’s shoulders to the ground when held up by the back legs but have no hard evidence to back that up. There is nothing in the photos I received that shows scale. That being the case, the best I can say is that the photos are inconclusive and should not be used as evidence that red wolves still roam the Lone Star State.

A few years ago, a NAWAC game camera captured a photo of a canid that was the subject of much discussion among group members. The animal in question appeared to be larger than a typical coyote and had many of the hallmarks of a red wolf or, at the very least, a red wolf hybrid. The coloring on the NAWAC specimen is certainly dead on as compared to most typically colored red wolves. Too, the ears are large and the snout is of the correct shape. The animal is thick in the chest and, as the comparison photo shows, is almost interchangeable in size and coloration with that of a red wolf. There are arguments against this being a red wolf, too. The coloration is a good match but the problem is that many coyotes exhibit almost identical coats. The ears are large but are more rounded than I would expect to see on a true wolf. I think the comparison photo illustrates this point quite well. In addition, the eyes of the NAWAC specimen look more rounded and coyote-like than the more narrow eyes usually associated with a full-blooded wolf. One of our members, who has an extensive background in all things wildlife-related, showed the photo to three wildlife biologists. Two of these scientists felt that, at the very least, this animal had red wolf genetics in him and was likely a hybrid. The third, towing the company line, said it was a coyote. When asked how he could be so sure, the biologist responded, “because there are no red wolves in Texas,” (I’ll leave that statement alone for the time being). Scale is also a problem here. It is impossible to say just how large the canid in the NAWAC photo actually is as there is nothing in the picture to provide obvious scale. It appears tall and long-legged but the photo is far from definitive. Measurements could have been taken of the tree behind the specimen but, as it was another cryptid we were attempting to photograph at the time, this was not done. My personal opinion on this animal is that it clearly has some red wolf in it. Whether it is a true hybrid (the first generation offspring of a coyote-red wolf coupling) or a descendent of a hybrid (more likely) I cannot say.

The third set of photos I want to take a look at were graciously provided by Chester Moore, Jr. and are featured on his Kingdom Zoo website ( The photos were captured via game camera by Mr. Moore’s research partner, Terri Werner, in 2012. The two pictures featured here are stills from two separate videos taken at the same location. I think most would agree that the animal seen in these photos is anything but a common coyote. The coloration, thick body, long legs and large ears immediately caused me to think “wolf.”

Mr. Moore also has a very interesting video of a red wolf-like canid on his website that is worth the time to view. The video subject is not built like a coyote; it is taller and longer-legged. While the video is black and white, the stark white of the subject’s chin, neck and chest is obvious. This pattern is exactly what one would expect to see when viewing a red wolf. Obviously, I cannot definitively say that the canids captured on video by Moore and Werner are full-blooded red wolves. What I can say is that whatever their genetic make-up might turn out to be, these canids are likely the closest thing to true red wolves I have seen in the wild and, if nothing else, their existence should prove the need for all of us to keep an open mind when it comes to entertaining the idea that these magnificent animals might once again roam parts of the Lone Star State…

… if they ever left at all.

*A special thanks to Chester Moore, Jr. for allowing me to use the photos above in this post. Please check out Mr. Moore’s Kingdom Zoo website and consider supporting his Children’s Kingdom Ministry.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Black Panther Sightings Reported

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.”

- Curupira

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Lisa

TCH Comment: Lisa, if you see this post, please forward me the photos of the paw prints. You can email them to 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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Anonymous

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.”

- Necienay

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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Personal Update

I thought I would take a moment to update everyone on my activities, or lack thereof, of late.

I have not posted much on the blog the past month or so. This is due mainly to the fact that I am a football coach in the state of Texas. Those of you from the Lone Star State know that the game is taken very seriously in these parts and it has taken up the bulk of my time. I learned a long time ago that there are two things every man thinks he can do better than any other man. One of those things is coach football. The other? Well, if you think about it long enough, I’m sure you will figure it out. The season is winding down now and I anticipate having more time to devote to the blog and my TCH-related activities very soon.

I think I have done a pretty good job of posting interesting links and photos on the Facebook and Twitter pages. If you are not following those sites, I would invite you to do so. Links to both can be found in the right hand margin of this page. The Facebook page stays pretty true to the mission of the blog in that it is devoted entirely to the natural world (part of which is, in my opinion, is cryptozoological-related topics like wood apes, black panthers, etc.). I branch out a bit on the Twitter page and, for better or worse, you get a little better sense of my personality there.

Some good news is that my two Reconyx game cameras have been repaired and are now back in my hands. This now gives me three relatively high-end game cameras with which I can conduct research and wildlife censuses. My other camera is a relatively new Cuddeback, which is currently deployed in Ellis County. I am particularly interested in trying to obtain photographic evidence that would support the existence of what most would refer to as black panthers. If you, or someone you know, have property on which these mysterious cats have been seen and you would be willing to allow me to deploy a game camera or two on a long term basis, please contact me via email at

Another thing I look forward to doing more of in the near future is speak to schools or groups on behalf of the NAWAC on the wood ape phenomenon or regarding my personal pursuits of other out of place or undocumented species like the black panthers of Texas. If you would be interested in having me, or another NAWAC member, speak to your group or class, contact me at the email above.

I will leave it there for now. I have another black panther post in the works and will be getting down to what I think will be a very interesting piece on the possibility that red wolves, long thought extirpated from Texas, still exist in small pockets in the Lone Star State.

More soon…

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Word From Brian Brown

“I think that the fear and the ‘giant monster’ thing comes from a lack of understanding and knowledge… I’ve been down there enough (Area X) that I understand they’re wild animals. And I understand wild animals need to be respected at all times because they’re unpredictable and they do strange things, and a deer can kill you, right? I understand that. But, they’re just animals. They’re not monsters. They’re not malevolent. They’re not evil… If you really want to be investigating them, if you want to try to get to the bottom of what this animal is and you want to do what I would consider science, you have to try to let go of that stuff. You have to move past it. Appreciate, respect them as wild animals.”

- Brian Brown (NAWAC Board Member) discussing wood apes with Seth Breedlove on the SasWhat podcast

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ellis County Camera Maintenance Trip

I made a trip out to check on one of my game cameras yesterday. The camera is located on private property in Ellis County, Texas where some odd goings on have been reported. The property owners have spotted two large cats, one tawny-colored and one black, on their land and have had several of their horses suffer injuries that they suspect were caused by run ins with a predator of some kind. The family has also found scat that looks suspiciously like that of a black bear and heard some odd clicking, moaning and growling from wooded areas adjacent to their home. Possibly the strangest thing to have gone on at this location is the disappearance of peaches from trees on the property. In two of the last three years, last year being the exception as a terrible drought prevented the trees from blooming, the trees have been quite prodigious. In fact, the trees have produced at such a rate that the property owners could not keep up. Peaches littered the ground and the branches were heavy with them. Each of these good years, the property owners returned from work one day to find the peaches gone. Not only were the peaches on the ground gone but the trees were completely stripped of fruit as well. For all of these reasons, the spot is an area of interest to me.

I was anxious to check the camera, as it is a brand new Cuddeback Ambush IR model on its maiden voyage. I have owned several older Cuddeback models in the past and they have been workhorses for me, providing years of service. They would likely still be working for me except I deployed them in a dry creek bed in Central Texas a while back and they fell victim to a flash flood event. The creek bed was a virtual wildlife highway and I got hundreds of great photos from the spot but a rain event in August of last year, pretty unusual in these parts, took them out. I’ve been attempting to rebuild my camera arsenal ever since but progress has been slow. In any event, I was anxious to see how the new Cuddeback performed.

I was a bit disappointed in the lack of events recorded by the camera. I got only a handful of shots/video of feral hogs and a coyote. The quality of the images was fine, however, and left me encouraged for the future. I downloaded the images on my laptop, refreshed the batteries and redeployed the camera in the same spot thinking that six weeks was not a fair enough sample size to determine whether it was going to be productive. After redeploying the camera, the property owner and I stared making our way back toward the house so we could take a look at what kind of images we had. That is when things got interesting.

We had walked approximately 150 yards back to the north of the camera location when I stopped to examine a game trail cutting back to the west. While I was looking for sign, I heard what sounded like a very large animal crashing through the brush back close to the location of the camera. I turned to look but saw nothing. The property owner had lingered behind me as I checked the trail and did report seeing something. She reported seeing something large and gray fly or drop out of a tree back in the spot from where we had just been moments before. She could not give many details as it happened quite fast but said the object was substantial. We immediately returned to the spot but could find nothing on the ground in the spot or surrounding area matching the description of what she says she saw. She was adamant that she saw something gray and big come from the tree or out of the tree line and land on the ground. She did not see any sort of movement after the event that would indicate an animal of some kind came out of the tree and then moved away. It should be noted at this time, however, that the grass is quite high in the spot and something low to the ground likely could escape detection quite easily by hugging the ground. I really do not know what else to say about the incident. It occurred exactly as recounted. As I said, I did not see the object but clearly heard something large. Other than that, I cannot really speak to what it might have been. After looking around for another 30-45 minutes, we made our way back to the house.

As I mentioned previously, I did not capture very many images on this set. While this was disappointing, I was pleased with the image quality of the photos and the video that was captured. Even though nothing unusual was photographed or captured on video, I have included the images here for your inspection.

I will continue to monitor the situation in Ellis County. I have two Reconyx cameras currently in the shop and hope to have them back by the time I refresh the Cuddeback in 4-6 weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dallas Man Hospitalized After Bee Attack

KWTX, a CBS affiliate in Central Texas is reporting that a Dallas area man has been hospitalized as the result of an attack by bees. The story is brief so I will post it in its entirety below.

Bee Attack Sends Central Texas Man To The Hospital

DALLAS (October 8, 2014) A man who was attacked by a swarm of bees while mowing near a self-storage facility in Hearne was flown to a hospital in Bryan.
The bees attacked the man late Tuesday morning, authorities said.
Firefighters were able to get the bees away by hosing the man down with soap and water.
Authorities diverted traffic away from the area for about an hour-and-a-half.
The self-storage facility and a nearby abandoned hotel were roped off until beekeepers were called in.
As a precaution, school officials kept students indoors for the rest of the day.

Obviously, the report is short on details and there is no mention of the condition of the victim. There is no word yet on whether the bees involved in the attack were of the Africanized variety, commonly referred to as killer bees, but it seems a safe bet.

The theme of someone out mowing and being attacked is a common one when it comes to bee attacks. On August 26, 2013, a Waco man was taken to a local hospital after being stung dozens of times by bees that he accidentally disturbed while mowing his lawn. The bees responsible for this attack were identified as normal honey bees initially, but other officials felt that designation was premature. To my knowledge, though some officials felt the bees were of the Africanized variety, the label was never changed.

In June of 2013, a Moody, Texas man was attacked and killed by a swarm of Africanized bees as he drove his tractor by an abandoned chicken coop on his property. Larry Goodwin was stung more than 1,000 times and died at the scene. His wife and daughter witnessed the attack and rushed to try and help. They were each stung more than 100 times but survived the onslaught.

In July of 2012, a swarm of killer bees attacked and killed two horses and seriously injured two adults near Pantego, Texas. According to the owner, her two horses were “so covered in bees that they shimmered,” before they were overcome and collapsed. The owner and her boyfriend were stung upwards of 200 times while trying to save the horses.

There are other incidents involving Africanized bees ranging from the Rio Grande Valley to north of the Red River but you get the idea.

As dangerous as Africanized bees can be, it is important for us not to overreact to their growing presence. Bee populations all over the world have dropped dramatically over the last two decades. Nobody seems quite sure why. Bees perform critical pollination, without which, agriculture would suffer terribly. As a result, we can’t go around and simply wipe out every beehive we come across. As always, use good sense and caution when out and about and realize that bees could be on or near your property. Pay attention and be aware of your surroundings. When a hive is located be sure to call in an expert to examine it. If it is a common honeybee hive it can likely be relocated and won’t need to be destroyed. If it is determined that the hive houses Africanized bees then it will be dealt with by the pros and, hopefully, nobody will get hurt.

Be careful out there.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Could a Cryptid Discovery Save the Earth's Wildlife?

I started this blog with the idea of discussing cryptozoologically related topics such as bigfoot, black panthers and chupacabras in a reasonable and level-headed manner. I wanted it to be more than that, however, and over the years have added posts on out of place animals and the status of creatures large and small from all over the U.S. and the world. My theory on some of the large cryptid questions out there is that there is a biological entity responsible for many of the sightings and accounts given by witnesses. If my theory is correct, creatures like wood apes and melanistic mystery cats are flesh and blood and subject to the same environmental pressures as known species. I would ask that you keep that in mind as you read this post. I think you will agree the statistics discussed below are quite sobering.

The Earth has lost half of its wildlife population over the last 40 years.

That is the conclusion reached by scientists from the WWF and the Zoological Society of London according to an article by Damian Carrington published on The Guardian website. WWF and ZSL researchers found that animals across the spectrum, river dwellers, sea creatures and land animals, are being decimated as humans harvest them for food in unsustainable numbers while simultaneously polluting and destroying their habitats.

Professor Ken Norris, ZSL’s director of science is quoted as saying, “If half the animals died in the London zoo next week it would be front page news but that is what is happening in the great outdoors. This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live.” Professor Norris stressed that nature, which provides food, water and air to humanity was essential for the survival of the planet.

“We have lost one half of the animal population and knowing this is driven by human consumption, this is clearly a call to arms and we must act now,” said Mike Barratt, director of science and policy at WWF. Barratt went on to stress that more of the Earth must be protected from development and deforestation and that we must find a way to produce food and energy in a sustainable manner.

Researchers calculated the drastic decline in wildlife populations by analyzing 10,000 different populations, covering 3,000 species in total. The data was then used to create a “Living Planet Index” (LPI), which reflected the state of 45,000 known vertebrates. The LPI is considered to be a robust indicator and has been adopted by the UN’s Convention of Biological Diversity as a key insight into biodiversity.

Professor Jonathan Baillie, the ZSL’s director of conservation, said, “We have missed the ultimate indicator, the falling trend of species and ecosystems in the world.” He added, “If we get our response right, we will have a safe and sustainable way of life for the future.”

Another index cited in the study is the Living Planet Report that calculates mankind’s “ecological footprint.” Loosely, an ecological footprint is the scale at which man is using up natural resources. The report states that, currently, the global population is cutting down trees faster than they regrow, is catching fish faster than the oceans can restock, is pumping water from rivers and aquifers faster than the rainfall can replenish them and is emitting more climate-warming carbon dioxide than oceans and forests can absorb. The report concludes that the current global rate of consumption would need 1.5 planet Earths to sustain it.

The most serious declines in population is occurring among animal populations that live in freshwater ecosystems. Populations have plummeted 75% since 1970. “Rivers are at the bottom of the system,” said Dave Tickner, the WWF’s chief freshwater adviser. “Whatever happens on the land, it all ends up in the rivers.” Pollution is not the only factor in the decline of wildlife populations in freshwater ecosystems. Dams and the increasing abstraction of water damage these systems. Tickner is quoted as saying, “There are more than 45,000 major dams – 15m or higher – around the world. These slice rivers up into a thousand pieces.” The dams prevent a healthy flow of water. In addition, more and more water is being pumped out of river systems. The world population has increased fourfold in the last 100 years but the world’s water useage has increased sevenfold. “We are living thirstier and thirstier lives,” Tickner said.

The picture for land-based wildlife is not much better. According to the study, the Earth has lost 40% of its land animals since 1970. Poaching and habitat destruction are the two main culprits here. Marine animal populations have also fallen 40% during the same time period. Factors in these losses are pollution, global warming and unsustainable harvesting practices.

David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK said, “The scale of the destruction highlighted in this report should be a wake-up call for us all. We all – politicians, businesses and people – have an interest and a responsibility to act to ensure we protect what we all value: a healthy future for both people and nature.”

The findings discussed above are startling and sobering. While most people, I believe, are in support of measures to save wilderness areas and wildlife, I fear the latest findings may fall on deaf ears. Of course, that assumes the message reaches the ears of the public at all. I saw nothing on the CNN, Fox News, CNBC or any other news network discussing this study and its findings. Additionally, I sense that the general public has been deluged with so many doomsday messages regarding pollution, global warming, habitat destruction, etc. that a point of over saturation has been reached. The WWF/ZSL report is just one more such story. It is white noise to many. Those who do consider such matters seriously likely have no idea what, if anything, they can do to help. There is a real sense of it being too late and that the train has already left the station. Another factor in all of this is that developing nations, where most of the habitat and wildlife is declining most severely, balk at the efforts of developed nations who “already have theirs” to limit their industrial practices. We must somehow make it worthwhile for these nations to preserve the few wild places we still have on this planet.

I do not feel it is too late. It might be the fourth quarter, but the game is not over. This is where those with an interest in unknown/undiscovered animals might be able to make a difference. If a new species, previously believed to have been a myth, can be proven real, the interest generated might just be the impetus needed to get politicians and governments from around the world moving on environmental issues. Just imagine if one of the cryptid “big three,” bigfoot, yeti or Loch Ness monster, was scientifically documented. The public cry to protect these species and their habitats would be deafening. Those in power, at least in most nations, would have little choice but to listen. The act of saving habitat for these species would directly, and positively, impact the ability of other known species to survive as well. By saving vast tracts of forested land in North America and Canada in order to preserve and study the sasquatch, we would also be helping countless other species survive. Animals ranging from the smallest insect to largest of mammals would benefit. This alone makes the work of those seriously working to document unrecognized species vital. We need a new “poster child” for a worldwide movement to save the last wild places on this Earth.

Those who are going about the business of documenting unknown species in a professional and scientific manner need our support. The clowns and charlatans who are making a mockery of cryptozoological research are hurting such legitimate efforts. These people should be shunned and ignored. We simply cannot afford to tolerate such shenanigans anymore; the time is growing short.


Carrington, D. (2014, September 29). Earth has lost half of its wildlife in the past 40 years, says WWF. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from

Yeti Print Photo Credit: Mike Rees

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Where Have You Been, Texas Cryptid Hunter?

I have received several emails over the last couple of weeks that have all asked basically the same question, “Where have you been?”

It seems that I write some version of this post every year as I don’t want anyone thinking I’ve abandoned the blog and stopped my TCH related activities. The problem is simply that life has intervened and I have had little to no time to dedicate to the site. As most of you know, I’m a football coach in the state of Texas. This is absolutely the craziest and busiest time of the year for me. From August to late November, I am chasing my tail like you wouldn’t believe. In addition, my wife has taken a new, and much more demanding, job which has made it necessary for us to reshuffle some family duties. It has all been good but it is a struggle when it comes to time management.

Several things are on the horizon that I’ll be sharing about soon. The annual NAWAC retreat is coming up and I’ll likely tweet live and post photos from that event. Also, I have two game cameras in the shop that I hope to have back soon so that I can begin a new field study. I currently have one camera deployed that is due to be checked. Actually, it is well past the time it should have been refreshed but I have been trying to wait for the other two cameras to arrive so that I could deploy them in the area and just make the one trip.

Things should slow down some soon and I’ll get back to doing the things I enjoy like writing the blog and chasing down any and all leads on the mysterious and undocumented animals that may or may not roam the Lone Star State. Hang in there with me. I appreciate each and every one of you that stop by to read about my thoughts and activities. In the meantime, be sure to check out my Facebook page and Twitter accounts (hit the links in the right margin). While I have not had time to write much on the blog, I have continued to post links of interest and news items I come across related to the natural and cryptozoological world.

More soon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Wisdom of Henry David Thoreau

"It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.”

- Henry David Thoreau

Monday, September 8, 2014

On the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

During a recent interview I was asked why the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker, among all the species driven to extinction by human behavior, has remained so much in the consciousness of the American public? To answer the question I referred back to something I wrote several years ago in a review for the movie Ghost Bird.

Certainly, it is a striking and beautiful creature but I think it is more than that. The Ivory-Bill offers hope of redemption for we Americans who, while we loved the forests and wild places of our continent, failed to be good stewards of the incredible resources with which we were blessed. True, our failures are magnified by the extinction of such a magnificent bird. But if, somehow, the Ivory-Bill has survived then we would have an opportunity to make things right. We would have a second chance. Until, and unless, we get that chance we will be forever haunted by this ghost bird.

I continue to pray that the Ivory-billed woodpecker survives somewhere in the bottom-lands of the Deep South and that we will get that second chance.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Real Texas Sea Monster

Below is a photo of a 2000 lb. manta ray (Manta birostris) that was caught off the jetties in Galveston sometime in the early 1900's. This brute was caught by a 75-year old man. I can only imagine the fight he had on his hands prior to landing this fish.

Big rays like this were once commonly referred to as devil fish or sea devils and can reach widths of more than 20 feet. It is likely a safe assumption that some sea monster reports from years past were actually sightings of huge manta rays.

Source: Traces of Texas

Monday, August 11, 2014

Updated Black Panther Distribution Map (8/11/14)

Below is the latest version of my black panther distribution map. The map now includes the latest reported sightings deemed credible and discussed in my post on the subject dated 8/8/14.

Understand, this map is not meant to be exact. I am bound by the amount of detail given to me about sighting locations by witnesses. If you are looking for GPS coordinates to get you within 20 yards of a sighting location then this map is not going to do it for you. It isn’t meant to. My intentions in mapping the sighting locations was to get a broad sense of where these cats were being spotted and hope to pick up on some “big picture” type of pattern. The overall locations are as accurate as they can possibly be on a map to this scale.

I do think that some patterns are starting to make themselves clear as the sample size increases. It has become obvious that if you live in north Texas, the area north and northwest of Dallas is the place to go looking for a large, black, long-tailed cat. In particular, the area surrounding Lake Lewisville is a real hot spot. The sightings are coming in from this area so quickly that I’m running out of room on the map.

Other areas that are emerging as black panther hot spots are southeast Texas between the Brazos and Neches Rivers, the Brazos Valley of central Texas and the southwest edge of the Texas Hill Country just west and northwest of San Antonio. A good rule of thumb as to where to look for these cats still seems to be the headwaters of major rivers or areas where major rivers converge and flow in close proximity to one another.

I hope to take this project up a notch and really zero in on sighting locations. I will still keep up with this distribution map but will also be creating maps of regions of the state. This will allow me to zoom in and provide a more accurate picture of exact sighting locations. I’ve been doing this on my own using an old Texas map and some pins. I feel like there is enough interest in this phenomenon to make it available to readers of the blog.

More soon.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sightings of Black Panthers in Texas Continue Unabated

It has been a while since I provided an update on black panther sightings in the state of Texas. Make no mistake, however, those reports keep coming in to the site. They show no sign of slowing up and, in fact, may be coming in faster than ever as more people find the blog and realize there is someone out there interested in hearing their encounter stories. If you like these reports you are in for a real treat as this post is going to be lengthy. Time slipped away on me and I have not done a very good job of keeping you all up to date on the sightings and they have stacked up.

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 that we have that taken care of, below are the latest and most credible sighting reports to come in over the last few months. Just to add something a bit different, I have included a few reports of which I am very skeptical or believe to be an outright attempt to hoax me. The questionable sightings will not be included on my updated black panther distribution map. I include them in order to show you, the reader, some of the processes I go through and some of the questions I ask myself when trying to decide if a report is credible. I say “ask myself” because most reports come to me in the form of comments to previous posts on this topic with the commenter remaining anonymous. This makes follow up questions to the commenter difficult to impossible. It is possible that some sighting reports I have deemed as credible are the work of hoaxers but I have diligently attempted to weed out those that seem questionable and printed only those that seem reasonable. Now, on to the reports.

The original reports are in italics and are followed by my comments.


“I recently saw a large black animal cross the road in front of me near Taylor, Texas. It was smaller than a mountain lion, but bigger than a bobcat. Its tail was long, which ruled out a bobcat. It's body structure and muscle tone all point to a panther or cougar. I now look everyday hoping to catch another glimpse of this animal.”

- Shawn Everett

TCH Comment: Taylor, Texas is located about 30 miles northeast of Austin in Williamson County. Though the sprawl of Austin is beginning to reach this area, there are still a lot of open and rural spaces for a big cat to roam. The account Shawn describes is typical of many reports, a simple road crossing. The long tail eliminates a bobcat in this case and the black color would seem to eliminate a cougar. What does that leave?


“Fall of 2013 in Hood County, Texas. In the daylight I watched one cross M&M Road in Granbury. Three other people have seen it too.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Granbury is 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth. It remains comparatively small with less than 8,000 residents as of the 2010 census. The surrounding area is decidedly rural with agriculture being the dominant industry. Though this report is very short on detail (an understatement), I include it as the area near and around Fort Worth have a long history of big cat and black panther reports. In addition, there is just a “here’s what I saw, take it or leave it” quality to the report that, as a native Texan, I recognize and understand.


“In the early 2000s I came across one on our land. It was solid black and very large. What was most peculiar to me is that it was capable of jumping over a 4 ft fence with virtually no hindrance whatsoever. We live on 50 acres in the small farming town of Kosciusko, TX. This past November, our neighbor saw one in our field. And I believe I just saw one this week at night. Our dog started barking, so I grabbed a flashlight and there was a large black animal in our field. Our dog will chase off coyotes, hogs, possums, etc., but he was scared of this thing. It started running, but it turned for an instant and I saw it had yellow eye shine. Now, I used our dog for a scale reference. Our dog is 50 lbs and this thing was double its size, hands down.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Kosciusko is a rural community that sits at the intersection of Farm Roads 541 and 1347 in Wilson County roughly 50 miles southeast of San Antonio. As of the 1965 census, the population was only 50 souls. I do not know how much, if any, Kosciusko has grown since then but can tell you the area remains sparsely populated. This area is far enough south that the idea of a wayward jaguar making it there is not that far-fetched. The witness’s estimate of a 100 lb. animal would seem to eliminate any cat other than a jaguar or mountain lion. The yellow eye shine reported is something I have heard many times from people claiming to have seen a black panther.


“I live in Fort Bend County near Katy close by West Park & Hwy 99. We have a large open field/wet land by our neighborhood. Me and my 2 young daughters were riding our bikes on the trails. We spotted a large cat like creature about 80 to 100 yards in front of us. It was all grey about 2 1/2' tall and about 3 1/2' to 4' long. The ears were small but stood straight up. I was unable to make out the tail. I looked up a few pics on wild cats native to southeast Texas and found a pic of a jaguarundi. It looked exactly like this from the distance we were at.

- Jake Zimmerman

TCH Comment: The description Jake gives certainly fits the jaguarundi mold and the fact that what he claims to have seen is a dead ringer for jaguarundi he saw in a photograph seems to make this one fairly open and shut. While it is possible that Jake saw an unusually large feral cat, the head and ears of a jaguarundi are quite distinctive. The fact that Jake immediately focused on these distinct characteristics leads me to think that he likely did see a jaguarundi. This would be news as these small wild cats are not supposed to live too far north of the Rio Grande River. The marshes and bayous of southeast Texas would be very suitable habitat for these small enigmatic cats.


“Believe it or don’t, it happened, and I have never been able to explain it away.

I was 10 years old and walking my german shepherd dog through my elementary school on a Saturday, broad daylight. We rounded a corner and there was a gigantic black feline. I have owned cats all of my life and know a normal cat when I see one, and this was not. These days, I label it a cryptid.

It was crouched with its bottom in the air staring right into my eyes. It was enormously muscled, a short manx cat tail. It had gigantic hind quarters, standing taller than its front legs. Its short pitch black fur gleamed with health. Its eyes were the size of saucers, round, golden and calm. I, who know cats quite well, would call it an amused stare. Not a stare I had seen before or ever since. It did not show any aggression or menacing body language. Just crouched there and laughed at us(?) with its eyes.

It did not seem to be quite as long or tall as my dog Nikki (remember it was crouching), but I believe it weighed every bit as much as Nikki in sheer muscle.

After a few transfixed seconds, Nikki proved himself a sensible fellow and quite silently and methodically turned around and walked away, and I followed him without thinking. We walked steadily back up the hill, out of the school, and up my block.

When we were halfway up my block, (my street ended at the school so it was across a small street and 4 houses up), I turned around and saw that the giant cat had followed us to the end of the schoolyard and stood crouched in that same position (rear end up) on the rock wall, watching us with its great round golden eyes.

I never saw it move, but I know it must have been loping behind us the whole way home – and I know it could have easily caught us. Also, I know that Nikki must have heard and smelled it following, even if I did not, but he never gave a sign. I think maybe Nikki saved at least his life, if not mine, by remaining so calm and I just followed him. That cat could have taken both of us.

No, it was not an overgrown domestic, a mountain lion, a bobcat, a puma, a lynx or any of those. There are no pictures of that cat anywhere and never have been

Weird, but true.

Thank you,

- Miriam Pashby

TCH Comment: Wow, what an interesting account. There is all kinds of stuff going on in this report. El Paso is about as far west as you can go and still be in Texas. Far west Texas has a breeding population of mountain lions and sightings in the area are not uncommon. A jet black cat, though, is something else. One of the first things to catch my eye and give me pause was the description of the tail as “a short manx cat tail.” I had never heard this term and looked it up. Turns out that the Manx cat is a breed of domestic cat with a naturally occurring mutation that shortens the tail. Some Manx cats have a stub of a tail but most are completely tailless. After researching this, I naturally thought this lady saw a large bobcat. Though rare, bobcats can and do exhibit melanism on occasion as documented here. The size reported is a problem, however, as the witness described it as being an equal in muscle and weight to her German shepherd. There simply are no bobcats that large. The description of large golden eyes does not ring any alarm bells for me. Many witnesses claiming to have had encounters with large black cats claim the animal had yellowish eyes. The next thing that bothered me was the posture the cat took and the lack of reaction on the part of the witness’s German shepherd. The rear end up, front end down pose is the classic posture a dog exhibits when it wants to play. The fact the animal made no sound and exhibited no aggression, tends to make me think it was used to people. The fact that it followed the witness and her shepherd before assuming the same rear up pose, again, is classic canine behavior. I really think it is possible that this lady saw some sort of large breed of dog with which she was unfamiliar. Many large breeds have their tails bobbed and ears clipped, giving the ears a more triangular/pointed look and more upright position on the head. I do not think this witness is lying but do feel it is possible she is mistaken. I did a post several years back about large breeds of dogs, black in color that might be candidates for some black cat sightings. I know she insists what she witnesses was no overgrown domestic, a mountain lion, a bobcat, or lynx and that she has never been able to find a photo anywhere of the animal she saw that day. If she is right, and this was a cat of some kind, I cannot imagine what it might have been. The only possibility that comes to mind is a melanistic jaguar that lost its tail in some kind of accident. Even that explanation does not hold much water for me as I just do not see a German shepherd not reacting aggressively to a big predator. I simply do not know what to make of it so will leave this sighting off my updated black panther distribution map.


“I’ve seen a large black cat south of Sierra Blanca (next to Redlight Mill). It was too big to be a house cat and was larger than a bobcat. It had a long tail like that of a mountain lion.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment:
Sierra Blanca sits in the Trans-Pecos region of the Lone Star State in Hudspeth County. This is an area of the state that is recognized by the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department as having a breeding mountain lion population. That being the case, a mountain lion in the area is not out of place. In addition, an unusually dark colored cougar was shot there in 2011. You can read about that here. Certainly the charcoal-colored lion killed in 2011 is not the classic “shiny black” often described by witnesses but, depending on light conditions, a cougar that color could appear black. The long tail described eliminates a bobcat outright as a suspect in this case but there is another big cat that is a possibility in this case. The jaguar is native to Texas and individuals have been documented in southern Arizona and New Mexico. If jaguars are crossing into those states from Mexico, it is not too much of a stretch to think they could be crossing into Texas as well. If a few of those individuals are melanistic, then that could explain this, and many other, sightings near the southern border of Texas.


“I live in Austonio, Tx. Late last summer we were out for a drive down a dirt road about 2 miles from our house. While looking out the passenger window I saw a large BLACK cougar sized animal jumping through the tall grass coming straight toward us. The grass was light in color and it really stood out.(not brown, but black.) It was about 60 yards away and moving fast. Every time it jumped I could see head and front paws, then when it landed only the tail could be seen as the grass was tall. The tail was quite long and held straight up. My brother has also spotted one about five miles away twice in a pasture.

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Austonio is an unincorporated community, formerly known as Pearville, located in Houston County in east Texas not too far from Crockett. There is a long history of black panther stories from this part of the Lone Star State. These cats are often thought of as just another animal in the woods and nothing to get too excited about. It is only when the locals find out that “there is no such thing as a black panther” that they get worked up. The description of the cat bounding is interesting. I have seen videos of big cats moving in this manner. It is possible this cat was after a field mouse or rabbit. It is an interesting behavioral tidbit to be sure.


“I live in Burkeville, TX (Newton County) about 2 miles from the Sabine River. I grew up listening to my grandpa telling stories of big cat in the area. I grew up playing deep in these woods from sun up to sundown and never saw anything but deer and hogs until one day when I was about 14 riding a four wheeler down a old logging trail something told me to look back.....When I did there was a large tan colored cougar running 20 feet behind me, he veered off into the woods and I about killed myself trying to get back to the house.......they ARE here.....miles and miles of river bottom that people never set foot on around here.”

- J. Fredieu

TCH Comment: This report obviously details the sighting of a normal tawny-colored cougar. I include it here for several reasons. First, J. Fredieu makes a point I have stressed many times in the past; mainly, there are thousands and thousands of acres of woods, bottomland, swamps and marshes in Texas where people seldom, if ever, go. Second, wildlife biologists will tell you that no breeding population of mountain lions live in southeast Texas but natives will tell you differently. In this regard, this sighting is not unlike those of large black cats. In this case, cougars are not supposed to exist (in this location), therefore, the witness must be mistaken, lying or saw an escaped pet. It is the same tired routine over and over again. Lastly, I included this report because it comes from the area where I grew up and I think it is cool. Sue me.


“I am in Flynn, TX right outside of Normangee, laughably the home of the fighting panthers (black). But seriously, approx. 2010 my brother & husband spotted a black cat fishing one day off of CR 499 it was moving through tall grass & brush, had muscular shoulders, body and tail visible even through the thick brush. But we have moved about 8 miles down from there & are experiencing multiple nights of horrific " woman screams" almost sometimes like a person being stabbed or something very upsetting to me & we have had a calf mutilated & our front neighbor has too - I was just wondering if any large or small farm animals or cattle have been killed before in the sightings areas. I seriously thought I was dealing with a bigfoot until I researched the screams & now the calves are dying. It would have to be a big animal to take down some of these calves.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Flynn, TX is an unincorporated community in Leon County. This area sits right on the edge of where central Texas gives way to east Texas. The county is sparsely populated with just over 15,000 people living there as of the 2000 census. That works out to only 14 people per square mile. The area is very rural and has many heavily wooded areas in which a large cat could survive quite well. I have had several reports come out of this general vicinity including a report from a man who claims to have hit a large black cat with his car (click here for details). The description given is typical of a panther or cougar. The “woman screaming” sounds are classic cougar vocalizations. While it cannot be known if the animal making the screams is the same animal or type of cat seen previously, it would seem to indicate that the culprit is a mountain lion. Jaguars roar, cougars do not. It is one of the characteristics that prevents cougars from being thought of as a true big cat by science. I have followed up on several reports of livestock killings and feel at least some of them are attributable to a big cat of some kind. If these problems persist, I would ask this witness to contact me via email at so we can visit and maybe get some cameras set up.


“Not sure how I ended up here, but I guess that's the internet for you. Interesting site, and some compelling arguments all around. I wanted to add my two cents.

I grew up in Columbus, Texas in the 70's and 80's--I'm almost 40 now. Our neighborhood was situated less than 1500 feet from a bend in the Colorado River that ran along the east end of town. I remember hearing stories from various members of my family (all of whom lived in the area) to the effect that black panthers lived in the area--especially along the river bottoms. But one particular story stuck out to me, and I remember it to this day. A family who lived around the corner from us swore that one of them had seen a black panther more than once. Their house backed up to the river and was less than 1000 feet from the river (I just Google mapped it). They had a small shed on the south side of the house that stood only about 5 or six feet tall. One evening, they were rounding the (can't remember which member of the family it was, but I think it was two of them that saw it) corner to go to the backyard for something, and they saw this black panther laying down up on the angled roof of the shed.

I can't for the life of me remember anything else about that story, but my mom and dad remember it and stories like it to this day. At the time, I was just a small boy, and thought these stories were completely isolated to Columbus. Stumbling upon this phenomenon today, it's fascinating to me to find that others have had the same experience. Though these disparate experiences lack the concreteness of hard evidence, it is very hard to believe that so many unconnected eyewitnesses could all be misidentifying these animals. I tend to favor hard evidence, but in the world of animal biology, there have simply been too many cases where the seemingly outlandish claims of indigenous peoples have been later validated by physical evidence.

Anyway, thanks for the article. It brought back a lot of weird memories.”

- CromCrom

TCH Comment: I love this account and I will tell you why. It is absolutely typical of what you will hear from people who have lived all there lives, sometimes for generations, in the bottoms, woods or marshes of east and southeast Texas. This reader also brings up a great point about the importance of anecdotal evidence brought forth by those indigenous to a region when it comes to identifying new animal species. I recently posted this link to an article stressing the importance of anecdotal evidence and local knowledge on the Facebook page. Here is the link to that article again.


“I just wanted to put my sighting on the web. That way other people who see this animal can have proof they are not crazy! I know people probably get the same remarks as I do, and nobody believes me… But, I saw what I saw, and it happened. On December 25th – 26th, 2012 around midnight. I was driving home on Sam Rayburn Tollway towards Plano, and the roads were terrible "still had ice on them." Not very many cars on the road, but was driving probably 25-30 MPH. I just passed the Super Target off of Main Street/121, and saw the most beautiful/ athletic creature I've ever seen. This large dark cat like animal was about 3 to 3.5 ft tall, roughly 5 ft in length, muscular body, long tail, and either black or really dark grey. Crossed the entire Toll way in less than 3 or 4 seconds. I witnessed this animal leap from the field “near Arbor Hills Park” to the off ramp “cleared the service road”, then to the middle of the tollway, to the next off ramp, then leaped into another open field “clearing the service road”, and then sprinted North in an open field next to some apartments. Literally leaped and bounded over the tollway… It was so fast, and had so much momentum I never saw it take a step, until it was running in the field towards the Colony. It was very muscular, it’s movements were so natural, flawless, and athletic. I pulled over to the side of the road immediately, as well as several other cars just to see if what we saw really just happened. The car that was behind me pulled up next to me, and asked “what was that?” & “what did you see?”. We briefly traded stories to double check if we saw the same thing, and confirmed to ourselves we were not crazy... I've hunted my entire life "as a hobby", and I've never seen anything move or look like this animal did. When I got home I started to search the web for animals like I saw, and if anyone else saw it. I don’t know exactly what kind of cat it is, but I’m guessing was a black panther. I called the next day, and tried to report my story to animal control, but they didn't take me seriously. I know what I saw that night, and anyone else who has seen this animal know how amazing this creature really is.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: The area in question would seem to be an unlikely spot for an anomalous big cat sighting but it is anything but unusual. The area just north and east of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has been a hotbed for sightings of large, black cat for years. I have recently obtained photos of a cougar in Murphy, Texas, which is not too far to the southeast of this sighting, and the community of Lantana, which is not too far to the northwest of this location. As a matter of fact, the location of this sighting would be right at the halfway point of where these photos were taken. Lake Lewisville is just to the west of the sighting location and there are several large parks, preserves and green belts in the area. It is true that the Lantana and Murphy cats were clearly tawny-colored cougars and not black. Having said that, if one accepts the possibility that a large black cat of some kind may exist in Texas, it would likely have many of the same needs and requirements as a mountain lion. We have photographic evidence showing that cougars inhabit or pass through this area on a regular basis. If these large black cats exist, why could they not do the same?


“My neighbor on the next farm over has 4 large black cats pictures on his game camera from the spring of 2013 here on the edge of Timpson, TX. Every now then when out hog hunting, you can here them scream. Kinda makes your hair stand up not knowing or seeing where they’re at.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Timpson is located in deep east Texas in Shelby County. The eastern boundary of the county, and the state, is the Sabine River. Reports of black panthers from the Piney Woods Region of Texas are not uncommon. Interestingly, what has become a well-known game camera photo of an unusually dark-colored cougar stalking a buck at a feeder came from this very area. Maybe the coloring of the cougars in this area is a bit darker than normal? If the submitter of this report is reading this, I would love to get a look at your neighbor’s game camera photos. If they clearly show large black cats then they could be a game changer for wildlife biologists.


“My husband and I live in Lewisville TX, in an apartment complex close to the lake. There is a small field in front of our windows. When my husband was leaving for work this morning around 7:00 am he got into his car and saw a large cat jump up in front of him. It jumped a few times as if it were trying to get a rabbit or something. He saw it very up close and said it was medium-dark brown in color, looked to be about 3 feet long or longer with a long tail, large hind leg and paws. I came out onto our balcony to see if I could spot it and I eventually did (I did get it on camera, I would love to share it but I do not see where I can attach it.) It was in the tall grass that comes up pretty tall and you can clearly see it is up about that.”

- Jessica Scales

TCH Comment: Another report from the Lewisville area. See what I mean about the area being a hotbed? The estimated size of 3 feet in length would be awfully big for a feral cat and the long tail eliminates a bobcat as the culprit. The description of the color as “medium to dark brown” does not sound like a cougar, though shades can vary. A jaguarundi is a possibility, I suppose, but the description of large hind legs and paws makes me wonder about that. I wonder, too, if this couple spotted a juvenile cat. The behavior described, jumping and bounding, could mean the cat was on the hunt or it could be a playful behavior. This is the second report that included a description of this behavior to come in to me over the last few months. Mrs. Scales, I would really like to take a look at your photos. You can attach them to an email and send them to me at


“I live in Allen, Texas and saw a large cat hunting the rabbits in our neighborhood tonight. It appeared to be about 25 lbs maybe 2.5 to 3 feet in length with a long tail. My mom has a main coon and it was significantly bigger. It looked yellow-reddish. I didn’t see any spots but unsure as it was dark and I didn’t want to get close. Any ideas?”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: The size of the cat in question here, along with the lack of spots, limits the list of suspects. My best guess would be a large domestic/feral cat or a jaguarundi. Some would suspect a young mountain lion but cougar cubs are quite strikingly marked. These markings would be difficult to miss so I doubt that is what was seen in this case. The jaguarundi goes through a color phase very similar to what this witness describes. The jaguarundi usually stands 10-14 inches high at the shoulder and measures anywhere from 30-60 inches from the nose to the tip of the tail. The 25 lb. cat described would be on the heavy side for a jaguarundi but not outlandishly so. Jaguarundi are not thought to live so far north but anecdotal evidence suggests that it is possible.


“I live in McLeod, TX. I've heard these things for years and seen two. One while trail riding Ole Dan knew exactly what it was. All I could do was hang on as we went to the barn. They’re here. They exist. Call them what you want it’s a panther around here.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment:
Cass County sits in the extreme northeast corner of the Lone Star State. This area is heavily wooded, sparsely populated and has a history of black panther reports. This account is another very matter-of-fact declaration from a witness saying these enigmatic black cats exist and that he has seen them. I get the feeling he does not care much if anyone else believes him or not. This is an attitude common to many folks living in the woods, bottoms and/or marshes of east Texas when it comes to these cats.


“I received this picture from a (soon to be) neighbor in some new construction on the west edge of Lake Ray Hubbard in Rowlett on Monday. It was apparently shot on Sunday evening, at about 8pm. Crappy iPhone pic (are there any other kind of cryptid pics?) but I can tell you that the black wrought iron fence to the right is 5 feet high, and 15 feet from the orange fence. I'd be inclined to dismiss it as either a black dog or a large house cat, but the proportions appear to be wrong for either. It certainly looks-like a bobtail size or better felid. I was googling around attempting to confirm my memory that there weren't any documented native black cats in North America (or at least Texas), when I stumbled onto your "Texas Black Panther" post, and decided you might enjoy the report. I'll be living in the property on the right side of the fence in a few weeks, and will be keeping my eye out for more sightings...

- Chuck (last name withheld)

TCH Comment: Once again, we find ourselves just northeast of Dallas. This report is great because it includes a photograph to back up the claim. I am not quite sure what to make of the photo. The cat does not seem to be very tall at the shoulder but is in a crouched posture. The cat does seem to be longer than what would normally be seen in a domestic. I will be attempting to do some analysis to get some ballpark estimates on size soon and will post those results in a later post. In the meantime, I have zoomed in and slightly lightened up the original photo. It almost looks like this cat is carrying something in its mouth. Could it be a cub/kitten?


“Hi I was doing research and came across and article that mentioned you. I've seen two large black cats here on Fort Hood in the training areas and would like to know what I'm dealing with. Any ideas?”

- Tina

TCH Comment: I live in the Fort Hood area and know exactly where these sightings took place. It is not the first time that I have heard of unusual animals being seen in this area. Fort Hood is the largest military base in the free world encompassing 340 square miles of central Texas. The military needed the wide-open spaces to test and train with World War II era tanks and tank destroyers. The base still has miles upon miles of wilderness and unpopulated areas that are used to train troops and for firing ranges. It would be suitable habitat for a large cat as deer and hogs are everywhere. I talked to Tina and wanted to come out on site to have a look but the increased security on the base prevented me from doing so. She has promised to keep an eye out and a camera handy from this point on and to let me know if any other sightings occur.


“On 08/04/2014 at about 11:45PM, in Orange, Texas, me and a friend were sitting on my porch looking toward my pasture tree line. We sighted and watched a large cat with fist-sized spots, which were the same color as the fur but a bit lighter or darker. We held a flash light beam on the cat for the entire period. The tail was very long and the cat was sleek, not shaggy like a bobcat. I could not tell what color it was because there was a bit of haze in the air and the flashlight seemed to reflect back the grey haze that was in the air. When we looked up images the cat we saw looked like a melanistic jaguar. It was about 115 yards away, laying inside the line of trees just past a freshly cut pasture. The cat stood up and began to walk toward my neighbor’s yard where there are chickens in a coop. Just guessing it stood about 36 inches high and between 4-5 feet long not including the tail which seemed very long for a cat.”

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Red flags everywhere on this one. The witness claims it was 11:45 at night when they saw the cat at a distance of over 100 yards. He says he could discern “fist-sized spots” slightly lighter than the rest of the cat’s coat. Yet, in the next few sentences, the witness said, “I could not tell what color it was because there was a bit of haze in the air.” Also, the witness says he lit the cat up with a flashlight, which allowed he and his friend to see the spotted coat but follows later with “the flashlight seemed to reflect back the gray haze in the air.” The witness indicates they saw the cat and watched it stand up before walking toward his neighbor’s property. Earlier, he said the cat was “laying inside the line of trees just past a freshly cut pasture.” How did he see a melanistic cat well enough to discern spots from over 100 yards away at 11:45 on a hazy/foggy night? I would like to buy into this one but just cannot do so right now. Maybe there are reasonable explanations for these contradictions but until I hear them, I have to assume this report is invalid. This report will not be added to my black panther distribution map. I include it here simply to show that I do critically examine reports as they come in and do not believe everything I hear.


“We have a ranch located between Hwy 79 and OSR, just east of Franklin, TX. We have seen many bobcats, cougars and black jaguars. Have pics of footprints, but not of cats. One large cat attacked a cow and tore up her hind side, shredded her tail leaving huge slashes on both back hips, inside and outside back legs. Found her 600 pound calf carcass weeks later in a tree.

- Anonymous

TCH Comment: Franklin is found in the Brazos River Valley not too far from the Bryan-College Station metropolitan area. It is very rural and agriculture is the dominant industry here. There is plenty of cover and room for a big cat of some kind to roam. I would be very interested to see the photos of tracks and would especially like to see any pictures of the carcass you found in a tree. If accurate, that would get the attention of some wildlife biologists, I’m sure. It is interesting because cougars tend to cache their kills on the ground and cover them. Jaguars are thought by many to drag their prey up into a tree but that is actually rarely the case. Of the known big cats, only leopards, native to Africa and Asia, tend to cache their kills in trees. The reason they do so is to keep the kill away from lions, hyenas and other predators that are either stronger than they are or come in larger numbers. I cannot imagine a need to cache a kill in a tree here in Texas (Also, it is difficult for me to believe that a leopard could drag a 600 lb. calf up a tree. They are big cats but not that big). I suppose the behavior could be instinctual but it would mean a melanistic leopard was on the loose in the Brazos Valley, something I believe to be highly unlikely. As you can see, I’m having some problems with this report. I am withholding judgment in the hopes that the submitter will send me those photos. I will gladly apologize for my doubts if the photos prove me wrong. Please send them in to As of now, though, I have too many reservations about this report to include this sighting on my updated black panther distribution map. I include it here simply to show that I do critically examine reports as they come in and do not believe everything I hear.

As I wrap up this post, once again I am faced with what to do with this “black panther” dilemma. Do I simply accept the opinion of mainstream science and conclude that there is no such animal. If so, I must assign witnesses who have claimed sightings of these ghost cats to one of three categories: liar, crazy or mistaken.

I just cannot do that.

This dilemma is not unlike that which investigators of the wood ape/sasquatch phenomenon face. Is everyone lying? Is everyone mistaken or nuts? I find that idea more difficult to believe than the possibility there is a biological entity out there that is responsible for many of these sightings. Are some sightings of large, black cats in Texas and the Deep South simply cases of mistaken identity? I have no doubt that is the case. Having said that, the sheer volume of sighting reports indicates to me that there is something more here than just myth and folklore.

I would like to express my gratitude to those that have submitted their sightings of large black cats. Remember, however, if you would like me to follow up with you please submit your account via an email and not as an anonymous comment to another post.