Posted by: Craig Woolheater on March 25th, 2007
DIALVILLE – Residents here are treading lightly and keeping an eye out for black panthers, who many say have made the woods in the Dialville area their temporary home.
How long they’ll stay here is anybody’s guess, according to citizens living in the area, who are fearful of a “mother panther and her three cubs” who have been spotted along the Dialville Highway on County Road 1610.
“A lot of people are scared,” a source said. “They can bite your head off. There are neighborhoods and houses all around that area.” Game wardens have been notified, according to the source.
However, officials from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department say the animals may have been confused with another type of creature.
“We get these calls all the time. They’ve probably seen something else,” said TPWD biologist David Sierra. “The ‘black panther’ is an East Texas myth. It’s one of those things that’s hard to dispel.”
So if it’s not a black panther, then what exactly is making a stay in Cherokee County? Sierra said there are two forms of what East Texans call “black panthers,” which could be an all black leopard or jaguar, caused by a genetic mutation. But in either case, Sierra said the sighting itself in this area is more rare.
“That’s kind of odd, if they are even in this area, because we have no tracks, no pelts, no photographs … as far as we know, there are no records of them here in Texas. The leopard, which is probably the most common — it’s going to be found in Africa, in Asia, some Europe, and the Middle East. The jaguar is from South and Central America, and sometimes they can be found in Mexico. Sometimes it turns out to be a bobcat, which is very common in Texas, or some kind of lab or just a very large black house cat.”Hannah Buchanan
Jacksonville Daily Progress