Black panther spotted as logging occurs in eastern Carteret


Eyewitness encounter jibes with other credible reports over past decades

TOWN OF BEAUFORT – I received a fascinating email Monday morning from Deanna Gillikin. For many years, she has lived adjacent to a dense wooded area, bounded in part by the North River and Taylor Creek. Sort of a one-way-in, one-way-out rural area, although it is not too far from modern civilization. As a good example, Google Earth shows a “Tesla Destination Charger” just a short drive from Gillikin’s home on Charlie Lewis Lane (east of town). 

You might say this newspaper lends a sympathetic ear to Black Panther stories. I am a believer, that is for sure! (I saw one on a remote wooded stretch of Pamlico County roadway. Late one night, it scampered in front of my car like a bat out of hell.)

So, we feel obligated to share Gillikin’s report. And, of course, I called the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, expecting they would welcome such astounding news! I ended up leaving a message on the cell phone of media specialist Mindy Wharton. Alas, two-plus days later, still no call back as I write this story. Apparently, even wildlife types in Raleigh are skeptical of Black Panther sightings. After all, other than a few squirrels, is there any wildlife left up there in Wake County?

I am sure you will enjoy Gillikin’s verbatim email: 

Friday morning May 13, 2022, at 10am I was looking out my back patio door into the woods that are being cleared behind my home. I saw some movement to my left and was very shocked to see a very large glossy black cat with a long massive tail. 

He was at least 4 times the size of a domestic cat. He was crouched low to the ground moving in a westerly direction, he turned southwest up the embankment of a drainage ditch and stopped behind a bush. I advised my husband and he witnessed the large black mass behind the bush. He could see it was something large, but couldn’t make out what it was.

I advised my neighbor, Johnise Lewis, because I was concerned for her two dogs. She said she had heard something recently behind my house one night. She stated that she couldn’t sleep and went to spend some time on her back porch. While on the porch she heard what sounded like a woman screaming behind our house! She said it was an awful noise and she went back into her home.

Thank you for listening to me. I feel blessed to have seen something so special, and I hope we can do something to protect it. 

I chatted with Gillikin on the phone, convincing her to take the adjacent photo. That is she, and behind her is the bush/vegetation where the creature sought refuge as logging was underway. 

She concluded our conversation with a brief anecdote. 

“You know, growing up, I can remember some of the older folks often mentioned a night spot around here known as the ‘Black Cat.’ I wondered where that name came from. Now, I know!”