Posted by: Craig Woolheater on April 28th, 2007
Upstate has its share of cat tales
DNR wants hard evidence
ANDERSON – Is it a case of wild cats or wild imagination?
People in the Upstate say what they have seen or experienced was not imagined.
“Big cats has been a subject discussed about every Saturday morning for several years now at the Public Well,” said Steve Goodson, who has told his story at the local gathering place in Anderson County.
Goodson said he has sent photos of tracks to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, but has not been able to have anyone investigate.
Last spring, Goodson built a couple of ponds on his property and after a rain soaked the freshly compacted red clay, the tracks were clear and crisp.
“I sent several photos, but could not get anyone to come out and make some casts,” Goodson said. “The guy at the DNR said that it’s not a dog, it’s a cat and the track is too big to be a bobcat. He asked me not to call the newspaper.”
Larry Patterson, who lives near Pelzer, said he saw a big cat in the area nine or 10 years ago.
“I never told nobody and I’ve been living here 22 years,” Patterson said. “It was down by the Lee Steam Plant and that thing was the size of a German shepherd. It was pitch black as if someone poured motor oil all over it.”
Patterson said he also knew a retired security guard who saw one at Bargains Food Store near a trash bin that contained meat scraps from the butcher.
“He said he walked toward the Dumpster and out jumped this cat, the biggest, blackest cat he had seen in his life. He said he never told anybody about that,” Patterson said.
Myrtle Bryson of Westminster said about five months ago she lost her small dog, a Chihuahua, but could not be sure if her 2-pound canine companion was the victim of a big cat or coyotes. She did say her grandson Josh Stewart has seen a big cat in Oconee County.
Goodson also said he has heard several other stories from people who have had close encounters with big cats.
“This man and his son told me they walked up on a pair of big cats sunning themselves on a rolled bale of hay,” Goodson said. “And my neighbor has lost several baby goats down here. I know because all that was left of one was head and ears and it was left next to my house.”
Capt. Larry Holbrooks with DNR’s law enforcement division has discussed big cats several times on local radio shows. He said if someone has seen a big, black cat it was likely turned loose by a private owner.
“I would love to confirm there is one,” Holbrooks said. “I have not gotten any calls. Sometimes your eyes will play tricks on you.”
The official stance of the state DNR is that there have been no documented sightings of big cats, whether black or the traditional tawny. The department is looking for proof, such as photos, tracks or a body where a big cat might have been hit by a car.David Williams