Having lived in the Southeast all my life, I’ve heard tales for decades about mountain lions and the elusive “black panther” sighted here and there.
Some of those stories or sightings are from reliable folks who I believe. I have no doubt that we in the Southeast have some mountain lions that have escaped from captive situations or have been released from captive situations. I feel pretty confident there’s probably some breeding mountain lions in the Southeast states; even with development, there still are large chunks of relatively wild property, especially in eastern Tennessee, north Georgia and western North Carolina.
I’ve never seen a mountain lion in the wild. I’ve seen plenty of bobcats, a lynx in Saskatchewan in 2014 and scads of coyotes of different colors. The “black panther” is by all biological accounts not a real thing. Y’all can dispute it, say your Granpappy shot one back in the day or you saw one from the deer stand or Cousin Jimmy had one stalk him or whatever. No one has legitimately verified proof of a black mountain lion — not a jaguar — on record with a state or federal agency. If so, give us a holler.
One of the other things that’s interesting is that with the thousands and thousands of game cameras being used throughout the United States and Canada, where are all the images of these rampant mountain lions and black panthers? I mean, if every report of a mountain lion or black panther sighting were true then we’d be up to our booties in big cats. And some of them would be on camera, right? At least some, of the hundreds or thousands of these reports?
So when this game camera video out of northwest Tennessee emerged, I was happy. Finally. A mountain lion the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency believes is legitimately traveling through the area. It’s been sighted three times in different counties. I’m sure we’ll hear about more sightings.
But I’m just happy it’s on camera. Finally. And it’s a gorgeous mountain lion. Very cool.
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