Most say panthers exist

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Some recall stranded circus boat

By Jeff Aydelette | Staff Writer
(Click Photo to enlarge)

One enterprising homeowner raked a bare spot in his yard each afternoon, and eventually captured a paw print during the black panther’s late night prowls.

EASTERN N.C. – Last week’s front-page story, which asked for reader feedback about the possibility of black panthers in our area, generated dozens of responses.

The Nov. 10 story also featured a photo taken in 2001 by Reelsboro resident, Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith, that lacked sufficient detail for a positive identification. E-mails, letters, and phone calls poured in. Readers also stopped our publisher on the street to regale him with their theories and recollections.


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Almost all who said they had seen a black panther were reluctant to reveal the exact whereabouts for fear hunters with mal intent — or poachers — might invade the creature’s habitat.

(Click images to enlarge) Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

(Click images to enlarge) Photo credit: Robert ‘Cody’ Griffith

“I stood eye-to-eye with one for a minute and a half,” said an avid hunter, who asked to remain anonymous. “He was solid black with bright gold eyes.”

Here, for your enjoyment, is a summary of reader comments:


I saw a black panther the first morning after moving to Beaufort County in 2005. There was no doubt that was what I saw. Lots of hunters have seen both the Florida panther (black) and the cougar (brown) in this area, but they don’t talk about it much.
Larry


My grandmother Hazel Gallo was born in 1911. She and my great uncle Harry Slade used to tell us kids about a circus boat that came across the river, but ran aground or something happened. All of the animals got loose, but they later rounded up most of them except for a male and a female panther that they could not find. I’m 42, and in the 1980s my great aunt Grace Daniels said she saw a mother panther and her babies while she was riding in her car.

Patricia Ferrara


Benny Scott is a believer.

Benny Scott is a believer.

Ive seen ‘em black, brown, old and young. In 2001, my friend David Simpson, who had serious doubts, ended up taking photos of some (panther) tracks, which I will share with you. That changed his mind.

One real dark night, I pulled up in my truck in a clearing and as I opened the door I saw one run under the truck toward the woods – that was the quickest way for him to go.

In the mid 1980s, I watched a raccoon head out across a field, then he stopped. Reared up on his hind legs, and sniffed the air. Then he turned right around and came back just the way he went. I shined a spotlight in the direction the raccoon had headed and there was a black panther stretched out on the top of an embankment.

I guess you could say I’ve spent a lot of time in the woods, so to speak. I have no doubts. They’re definitely here.

Benny Scott


I’ve seen them several times and I’ve also seen full-grown mountain lions. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. I want to say ‘baloney’ to anyone who disputes the fact that they are here. There are also cougars and bobcats – some are just like you see out west on the TV – tawny tan with a tail as long as the rest of their body. I have friends Mike Twichell and Al Krelie who will confirm all of this. I’ve stood next to a full-grown cougar in a zoo, and the ones that I have seen around here weren’t that small.

Tim Carawan


I’m writing in response to your last week’s article on a possible local black panther population in Pamlico County. I’m quite sure that your state and federal biologists are mistaken in their belief that this area could never host such a population. Though I don’t know how large it is, I do know that one exists.

One late spring day of 2010 at about sunset I was driving north on highway 306 when huge black cat crossed the road directly in front of me. I was just south of Pamlico Community College when it left the woods on my right, crossed the road, and jumped over the fence on my left with its long black tail trailing behind. It cleared the fence and disappeared into the woods.

I was stunned and at first questioned what I had seen. Domestic cat? No, much too big! Large dog? No, larger, much more graceful, and its tail was too long. Black bear? No, wrong shape and then there’s that long tail! I had seen a panther! Who would believe me?
I mentioned my sighting to several local hunters. Yes, they’d heard about them but never personally witnessed one. One told me that his grandfather had seen one many years ago in a cow pasture.

I continued my research on the computer where I found a reference to a sighting in the late 1960s aboard Camp LeJeune. That time a large group of marines saw it while out training and documented their sighting.

Some years prior to the personal incident I’ve described, at about the same time of day, I was driving slowly in an area of Craven County, which is heavily populated but borders a forested area, when an animal entered the woods close by. I knew what it wasn’t, but couldn’t confirm what it was. I remember telling my husband that I had just seen what appeared to be a black panther. Whoever heard of such in this area? That time I didn’t investigate the possibility further as I was sure I was mistaken. Was I?
I look forward to reading any other responses you receive on this issue.

Sarah Lee Koos
New Bern Resident
Pamlico County Native


That photo is a fake. It might fool some city dwellers but it ain’t fooling somebody who has tracked animals up and down the roads of Virginia and North Carolina for 13 years. I’ve never seen evidence of one — mighty funny EVERY BLACK PANTHER sighting / photo is ambiguous.

Russell White


I agree. The photo is a fake.
John S. Foster


I was surprised and also excited to read your article in the County Compass regarding if anyone knew stories about panther sightings. I was excited because just this past Wednesday 11/10 I had a service repairman come to my home to service my fireplace. We got to talking about the animals down here (as we were originally both from up North) and he mentioned did I know we had black panthers here. He told me he is a hunter and fisherman since he moved here in 1995. One day he was driving on Janeiro Road (as you also mentioned) and he thought it was a small black bear on the edge of the woodline. As he got closer he know thought it was a house cat but it couldn’t be as it was much larger. He said the tail came down like that of a panther and then had that curl at the end. I was so mesmerized by his story and here you are writing about it. I know his name is “Gary” and he works for DAVCO ENERGY SYSTEMS as a technician. If you are interested in talking with him I’m sure if you call Davco they could give you his cell number and you could call and talk with him directly about what he saw. I’m just happy to pass this information along as I just talked with someone that did see one in Pamlico County.

Mrs. Janet Shikoluk
Minnesott Beach (Pamlico County)


I HAVE SEEN THE PANTHER !!

I have seen the black panther/cougar with my own two eyes. I KNOW FOR A FACT they are around. One night my husband and I came from church and we saw these strange eyes. The eyes were big, round and green in the headlights . My husband and I drove our car a little closer to get a better look , wow were we surprised! This cat’s back was probably two feet from the ground and he weighed approximately 100lbs. He took off and sprinted through the air like you would see a wild cat on Wild Kingdom! I use to stay up Callison Road, home to the bobcats, but this was no bobcat! This was no house-cat! Whether it was a panther or a black cougar I don’t know. But what I DO KNOW it wasn’t an ordinary cat ! I don’t care what biologist say, they are in Pamlico County!!!

Carolyn K. Davis


I’m writing this concerning the Black Panther (Puma). Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I lived on Florence Road. My friend, a hunter, told me he saw what he believed to be a large black cat. I asked him what he had ‘smoked’ before he went into the woods. I didn’t believe him. But sure enough, a month later while driving up Florence Road towards Merritt, a large black panther (puma) ran right in front of me and my wife. There is no doubt in my mind what I saw. They are here – believe it or not.

Thank you, Lee Early


I love a mystery. I’ve had “encounters” with what could be some species of cougar or panther. I’ll be glad to share with you any info I have, provided I remain anonymous, please.

I will tell you my stories and let you borrow the plaster casts of tracks found on my property provided I get them back and, again, I remain anonymous.

NAME WITHHELD


I have been hunting for 43 years and live in a very rural part of Pamlico County. I encountered a panther as recently as three months ago. I have had one looking directly at me – we each froze and looked at each other for what I would guess was probably a minute and a half. It was solid black and bright gold eyes. There is absolutely no mistaking it.

I have also seen one dragging a deer carcass out of a ditch. I think it is absolutely amazing that we have these magnificent creatures here, especially when you consider how many trees have been cut and how many trigger-happy people as we have in this area.

Please do not use my name or tell people where I live – they would be up here looking around and we don’t need that if we want to keep these animals alive and well.

NAME WITHHELD


They’re here! I always heard that they were around, and one reason is because they are smart! The biologists and other so-called experts say they go no further north than the Savannah River, but they’ll go where they have to go in order to eat.

Roy Batson


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