Black Panther Sightings In Upshur County - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/28/07-Longview

Black Panther Sightings In Upshur County

       Another report of a mysterious black panther, roaming a densely wooded area in western Upshur County. The latest sighting of a reported black panther is in an area off of Highway 154 near Rhonesboro, in an area called Raintree Lake.   In a remote wooded area called Raintree lakes, residents are unnerved by the night time yowls of a big cat they believe is in their community.

    "It's a big black panther that's what it looks like a big black cat" said area resident Mitchell Bransford.

       For weeks many have heard it, and some have come face to face with it.  Residents say they've not only heard the sound like a woman screaming, but they've seen it.

     "I've seen him on two or three occasions and I'm not talking about a glance I'm talking just straight at him and him just looking at me, kind of gave me chills" said Bransford.

    But wildlife experts say a black panther in east Texas is near impossible.

    "It's just not likely, there's no such thing as a black panther, there are black jaguars, but it's more likely that they're seeing a black hog or a black otter" said Texas Parks And Wildlife biologist Charlie Muller.

     But now pets are missing in the area, and some livestock has been killed, leading many to think a big cat is responsible.

     "A lot of dogs have come up missing" said one neighbor.

    "One of my calves was torn up torn a part stomach was ripped open throat ripped open" said area rancher Wayne Ballard.

      Mountain lions do reside in East Texas and experts think, in low light, they are being mistaken for black panthers, which are actually South American Jaguars.

   "It could and most likely is a cougar or mountain lion" said Muller.

    If they're out there Muller says someone will have to prove it.

    "You'd have a better chance of finding bigfoot" said Muller.    

    Jaguars have been seen in Texas in the past, but Muller says the odds of a black one, which are very rare in the wild, residing in East Texas are extremely remote.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting bhallmark@kltv.com 

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