Wednesday 12 May 2010

Big Cats in Texas

The new Austin Para Times has an interesting article on Big Cats. (I presume it is new as I haven’t heard of it before)

"Black Panthers" verified in the Lone Star State - CryptoZooKeeper Chester Moore Jr.

"Black panthers" verified in Lone Star State CryptoZooKeeper-Chester Moore, Jr. Scientists admit there are "black panthers" in the United States. These "black panthers" aren't a new discovery and they come in a slightly different package than some would imagine. According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials, the jaguarundi (Felis yagouaroundi) is known to range from South America to Texas. And although not widely known by the public, jaguarundis are prime candidates for spawning "black panther" reports. They are a medium-sized cat with a mean body size of 102 centimeters for females and 114 for males according to Mexican researcher Arturo Caso. Other sources list them as ranging from 100 to 128 centimeters with the tail making up the greatest part of the length. Most specimens sport a dark gray color while others are chocolate brown or blonde. A large jaguarundi crossing a road in front of a motorist or appearing before an unsuspecting hunter could easily be labeled a "black panther". Since very few people are aware of jaguarundis, it's highly unlikely they would report seeing one. The term "black panther" however is quick and easy to report to others. Everyone can relate to a "black panther". It is commonly believed jaguarundis in the United States are only found in areas along the Mexican border. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) biologist Terry Turney says differently. Turney is now an endangered species specialist in West Texas but spent the early part of his career on the Upper Texas coast near Port Arthur managing the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area (WMA). On this 30,000-acre tract of mixed coastal prairie and marsh, according to Turney, is a population of jaguarundis. "While I worked the Murphree Area one of the workers had seen three of them and the ranchers around the area as well as other members of the Murphree crew saw them fairly frequently," Turney said. "I had two of them in my neighborhood near Houston in the late 70s and the dogs would tree them every couple of weeks. They're about the most secretive critters around," he added. The J.D. Murphree WMA is more than 300 miles north of the Service's estimated range. How is it that state workers are seeing these cats in Port Arthur while the official word is they're only in the southern extremities of Texas? And how much farther north and east might these cats range? Louisiana? Arkansas? Oklahoma? I have been doing field research near the Murphree WMA and have made plaster casts of tracks I believe to be from a jaguarundi. Currently I have a Buckshot 35 camera in the area in hopes of getting a snapshot of one of the elusive creatures. Is the jaguarundi responsible for all "black panther" reports in the United States? That's not likely. Are they the source of many sightings in the South and Southwest? There is no doubt in my mind. A far more detailed report on this issue will appear in a future edition of The Anomalist. (To contact Chester Moore e-mail him at To see photos of jaguarundis and his field research involving the species visit the mystery cats page of



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