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Wild Animals/Panther in Eastern North Carolina


Kathy Owen wrote at 2007-08-19 07:10:53
Hi Johnathan,

I wanted to add to this as not only do we have some form of panther/cougar/puma in our area, but I have had a personal experience with them locally.  I live in the countryside of Carthage, NC.  Last year we had the misfortune of a puma attacking my dog.  I saw it with my own eyes, and was very surprised that it was here, as I hadn't heard of them being local.  It was an expensive event, as my dogs hadn't gotten their rabies shot yet, it was the last on their list.  They licked my daughter and I in the face, yielding 14,000 dollars worth of rabies shots.  The dogs were quarantined for 6 months, and I am still paying that off.

Because it was a wild animal attack, the animal control got involved, but they would not go public with the sighting, as they had no "proof" that it is what I saw.  It all came very clear to me when I went to the zoo in the spring, and saw the Mt. Lion exhibit.  I was fine looking face to face with the Mt. Lion, but when it walked away from me, (the view I had the year earlier) I started to panic and have memory flashbacks of that event.

This spring, within a week of the same time of the attack, I saw a puma again going after the neighbors chickens. This time I asked a neighbor to come and look with me, and he too saw it. The return at the same time of year makes me think that their hunting is cyclic returning to the same area at the same time each year.  Because they have up to a 60 mile hunting radius, this leave plenty of area for them to cover where NC has yet to give way to development.

I wish there was a way to get the word out, so that people could be aware.  There were also sightings in the Seven-Lakes area, and the animal control people called me back to tell me that there was even a horse attack in Southern Pines on one of the more expensive horse farms.  That time, they found foot prints, and still didn't issue a public warning.

I am convinced that they are here, and living among us.  I've gone out at night to find my dog, and heard their cries - and moved quickly inside.

I feel that education is the best answer.  I know they are generally nocturnal hunters, and was surprised to see one around 5 p.m. this spring.  The other thing I noticed is that both the one last year and this year was probably  about the size of a medium dog.  Could it be a smaller breed or would that have been a cub?  Either way, I respect their environment, and don't invite them into my yard with letting chickens run wild like the neighbors did.  Now I understand why chicken heads were showing up in my yard, even though my dogs were cabled.

Thanks for letting me add to this...  

Frances J. Duggan wrote at 2007-10-02 17:00:52
I live in Cabarrus County, NC on Route 200 near Route 601.  For two nights I and my son have heard what I have described as a Panther's loud scream at 2:30 and 4:00AM. It sounded like a very large animal.  It was frightening to hear. I have actually seen a panther in my yard several years ago. I back up to about 100 +/- acres of wilderness.  We are afraid for our small dogs and only go outside at night with them when they go potty.

santhony wrote at 2007-12-13 20:25:14
Years ago I was rabbit hunting near my home town of Greenville NC, which is in eastern NC.  A friend and I had just gotten out of his truck when we killed our first (and only) rabbit. Rather than lugging it around with me I put it under the truck until we came back.  When we did come back a couple of hours later the rabbit was gone.  I scanned the tree line and fields to see if there were any dogs or other hunters around.  I quickly saw what looked like a fairly large dog right on the edge of the nearest field.  It was looking at us and crouched down to not be seen.  I was young, dumb and curious so I walked toward the animal to see what it was (thinking it was a dog).  When I got about half way the animal jumped up and ran the other way.  I was stunned to see it was not a dog.  Believe me I know animals and it was a cat of some sort.  No spots and a long tail.  The tail and the way it ran convinced me that it was feline.  VERY LARGE feline.  I told a few people about and few believed me but a couple told me it was probably a panther.  This all took place before the Internet in 1992.  It was out a ways from town right near the tar river in Grimesland. To this day I can remember it clear as a bell.

micheal wrote at 2007-12-31 18:52:57
I live in davidson county nc and have seen panthers for years off and on as i was deer hunting.They are more of them around than people think

Fix wrote at 2008-02-21 01:39:35
Panthers were released into Bladen County sometime last year or the year before... One was killed last year... It isnt uncommon to spot a panther, though not as common as a deer in the backwoods. as for black panthers... I really don't think these are the panthers that were released but by gossip thats what I was told, not what I researched... sighting of a black panther in most parts of Eastern NC has also been reported... Often it is just local legend, (least thats what it seems like)... Then again you have proven eye witness accounts in some parts of TN, NC, VA and West VA of black panthers... if it was black, it could have possibly been a bear... they are quick, and I've had one leap across the road infront of us one time... I could have eaisly mistake it as big foot if I didn't think about it


Fayetteville NC Resident.

Jason K. wrote at 2008-06-25 03:04:55
  I live in western NC, surrounded by National Forests (very near Shining Rock Wilderness). I have heard a number of people say that they have seen wild cats, the most suprising of which is the Panther (described to me as a large black cat). I have been here my whole life and have seen many wild animals around, but never a wild cat (even though I know some officially reside here, and I have seen tracks and prints on dusty cars!). My most common encounter is the black bear, and I have done some research about their existence in NC.

  From my personal encounters with the black bear, I have come come to believe that some of the unconfirmed sightings of the Black Panther in NC may have actually been sightings of Black Bear. The more Black Bear you see in the wild, the more sense this makes.

  Generally, Black Bear are much smaller than any other bear species. They do not all have that 'teddy bear' appearance that people associate with this creature. Some appear quite 'lean', and could easily be mistaken for another animal. I once had a bear run across the road in front of my car and initially I thought it was a big black dog. The person in the car with me thought the same thing. We had a good laugh when we realized what we were seeing. This particular bear was actually a bit more typically shaped (rounded body, etc.) and it's hair was slightly brown.

  All bear in NC (and elsewhere in the Eastern US) are Black Bear (in terms of there official taxonomy). Actual colors range from totally black, shiny coats to much lighter brown coats with no black at all! My experience in WNC has been that many of the resident population has a black coat with some brown. That is what ran in front of my car. However, I have encountered a few which were 'perfectly' black, shiny, and quite lean. Most often I see bear while cycling (bicycle that is), while riding on roads within the National Forest. Riding alone on a bicycle makes very little noise. Unfortunately bear are attracted to the road because they often find garbage (i.e., food). These two facts make it very easy for an encounter to occur.

  One of my favorite encounters occured while I was climbing a curvy mountatin road within Pisgah NF. I heard a noise in the woods just ahead of me, around a curve. I thought it might be a turkey, but it sounded too large. Quite unexpectedly, a shiny, black, lean, relatively small bear (~150 lbs.) stepped out onto the road. The bear did not hear me and must have not smelled me either...

[It was still around a curve from me. There was basically a sizeable gully or small valley between the bear and I, although it wasn't any more than 200' (linear) away. The bear would have had to go down through the gully or run much farther around the curve to get me, so I wasn't concerned for my safety, though I could no longer continue up the mountain past the bear!.]...

I felt relatively safe, and so I stopped, turned my bike where I could ride down quickly (if necessary), and observed quietly. The bear never even looked in my direction. I didn't stay very long because I heard a couple of other animals in the woods just where the bear had come from. This could only be bear cubs, as adult black bear are solitary (males do not participate in rearing cubs). Of course a female with cubs can be very protective and dangerous, so I decided that it was time to leave.

  I presume that I saw the mother, as this is the standard size for an adult, female black bear. It's face was not quite like what I had seen before. It did not have the sort of 'snout' that I am accustomed to. Its 'snout' was quite shorter and the face was generally much smaller than what I have ever seen. This bear in particular, along with the other shiny, black, lean bear that I have seen, are the basis for my theory that the 'Panther' spottings may actually be just what I have described.

  To account for the claims of Panther spottings in eastern counties of NC, the same assumption applies. The key is that many people presume that bear are mostly mountain animals. This is quite untrue, as nearly two-thirds of the bear population in NC live in the eastern counties (the coastal plains, all the way to the coast). In fact, the bear population in the eastern counties include much larger specimen. I did not know this until a couple of years ago, and I expect that most people are just as suprised as I was.

  Anyway, consider this possibility, even though I may be wrong. Maybe we do have Panther in NC. That would be very exciting, but I seriously doubt that it is true.

Earl wrote at 2008-12-08 03:04:55
I live in Davidson Co NC, About 3 years ago i was mowing and saw 2 panthers behind my house in an old road bed. I do a lot of Photography and i do have pictures of them. i sent them to the central game dept headquarters ranger in Winston-salem guess what he never responded, the game dept does not want us to think there out there. until some one shoots one thay will never admit there here. and then thay will say some one turned it lose.

LJ wrote at 2009-02-10 04:43:42
I used to live in NC, on the coast near a military base, once, while crossing the base in a rural area, a large black panther ran out from the woods (a white van coming in opposite direction saw it also) it was as big as a great dane, it prob weighed about 200lbs, noone believes me, but I had previously seen a tan one and a mountain lion, noone was surprised about that but i did see a huge black cat, its tail was so long it dragged the ground, huge powerful animal

hunterjoe wrote at 2009-12-01 22:33:08
Bellhaven is strait up the intercoastal from fl. Animals like manatee and alligator. Have used it to visit nc for years if fl. Has big cats its not farfetched or uncommon if u seen one in bellhaven a everglade cat would love are swamp are bear population jumped 30percent in nc and va durham county nc has the us record black bear we can feed him. The nc zoo found its 2 pumas abandoned in a wear house in nc  

Floyd Mattoon wrote at 2010-05-08 16:42:23
I saw what I consider a black panther. Older people here called them a panthercat. This one came out of trees to the road and was very black and too big to be domestic that is sure. He came out at the Black river outside Wallace NC. Some few people say they have seen one as well.

Kevan wrote at 2010-06-25 14:10:21
I saw a panther yesterday in Rolesville NC, around 5:30 at the intersection of Hwy. 401 and Burlington Mills Rd.  

Casper wrote at 2010-11-05 04:29:37
A few cousins of mine and myself saw a very large (German-shepherd size) Black cat running away in a field on our way home from school once as children. I still have a vivid memory of it and know it did not run like a dog. It was running so smooth and its body contours were too much like a cat.

That was probably around 1995. I still remember the field  

nukansun wrote at 2010-11-13 19:17:51
While in the Pisgah National Forest between Waynesville and Brevard, NC my wife observed a "bobcat"... that had a very long tail and cleared the forest service road in one bound.  Am certain what she saw was a cougar.

David wrote at 2010-11-27 16:42:54
Hi Sandra and to Jonathan       I seen a black panther in Caldwell county in 1985 , so they are still a few around . The animal I seen was not a black version of a couger (mountain lion , puma the same animal different name ). This cat was close to 4 feet long not including it's tail and I would have guessed it's weight at 100-120 lbs.I had been told stories when I was younger of black panthers and did not believe them. I was a believer after seeing one myself crossing a road late at night on the grandin road in caldwell county NC.       be well    David  

CougarNC wrote at 2011-02-23 03:42:39
You are not losing your vision! I was going down highway 9 South from black Mountain, North Carolina to Chimney Rock. A very large cat went across the road in front of my car. North Carolina will not recognize wild cats in the area because they have to stop developing.

Glenn wrote at 2011-03-03 14:58:03
In 2010 on my  way home from work in perquimans County late one evening I had a "panther encounter".I was driving down Pender Rd. When the cat came out of the woods and ran across the road in front of me and into a corn field.It was black in color and appeared to weigh about eighty pounds.I was a forester for years and have spent a large portion of my life in the woods and did not think panthers existed aroud here,now I know better.In the two years since my sighting I know Four other people who have seen a panther within five miles of my sighting.The most recent being in January 2011.

Michelle Brown wrote at 2011-05-18 12:24:27
I saw a panther last night about 8:45pm crossing over Bellhaven Dr in Charlotte NC. This caught me off guard and I couldn't tell anyone about it. They might think I am going crazy. Panther in NC no way man!

Shawnasee wrote at 2011-07-16 00:47:51
Yesterday on Town Creek Road, in Wilson County, NC I had just past Town Creek bridge going towards 42 hwy. I saw a VERY large black cat, the size of a lab with a slouchy walk. It was black in color until the sun shone on it and then it looked purplish/black. It looked straight at me and headed back into the woods. I caught my breath and described the animal to my husband, whom was on the phone with me. I thought that maybe the cat had come inland because of the wildfires in Dare County. I know that a lot of other odd creatures have done this so it was natural to think the same about the "Big Cat". Sighting was 7/14/11 @ 5pm.  

leah cummings wrote at 2011-11-02 02:25:27
Last night I was coming home from redsprings nc, And it was around 11:15 and my little Girl was with me, And she said mom i am going to laid down, And I said what if i fall asleep,I was just kidding and then there it was,something black and sleek ran across the road has fast as lighting,the eyes where glowing I said Omg what was that and my baby got up real fast and said what is it? I said I don't know, But I know it was not a deer,or a bob cat because I know what they look like and they are not that fast, I know what I saw It was a black panther or puma, Has anyone else seen this where i was....

bobcat1957 wrote at 2011-11-30 21:19:59
I have lived in the Bladen, Pender county area for the last 21 years and have seen at least 5 black panthers. I was with someone when I saw the first 2 so I don't think I am crazy! Also there is a big difference in how a bear runs and how a panther runs so there can be no mistaken identity! The last sighting I had was 2 weeks ago about 1 block from my house. I live in Atkinson and I was on my way home from the store on Point Caswell Road when I slowed down because I saw what I thought was a large dog beside the road. The "dog" was at a location where a deer had been hit earlier in the day. When I passed by the "dog" i was going only about 5mph and the animal turned and looked at me right in the eyes!!! That was when I realized it was a panther, there is no mistaking those big yellow eyes!!!! I slammed on brakes to go back and get a better look and it was gone!!!! He was the size of a Great Dane!

All of my sightings and those of people in the area have been around the Moore's Creek Battleground within about a 15 mile radius. Also a friend of mine got video of 2 panthers and sent it to the wildlife people because they said he was mistaken. After they saw the video they told them that Panthers had been released in the '70s to control the deer population in Pender/Bladen counties. Guess they don't want people to know they have put us and our animals in harms way?

Stan wrote at 2012-04-27 23:58:29
I saw a big gray to black blochy cat just out side of Fayetteville NC.

Lexie wrote at 2012-06-09 03:14:52
I saw what looked like a panther or cougar today in the woods on the edge of Sunset Hills Golf Course.  I was showing a house that backed up to the woods... and the animal was stalking straight ahead of me.  There were a couple horses near by and I thought he might be after them.  He had a huge thick tail that was curled at the end... I'm sure there are lots of deer in the area to eat too.

I just saw the comment that someone saw a similar cat on Bellhaven Dr. which in this exact area.  

Believe wrote at 2012-06-19 19:10:24
I saw a cougar today. I live in Charlotte NC off of Highway 29, on the way to Concord Mills mall.  It was a large, feline looking creature with a long tail that curved at the end. I called 311, they directed me to NC Wildlife who calmly told me it was probably a cougar or a bobcat.  He then said not to leave a food source out.

I googled pictures of both. It was a cougar. I live in a pretty developed neighborhood that has several "patches" of woods around and plenty of deer in these "patches".  Definitely want the public to know that they are being forced into more populated areas.

Karin wrote at 2012-07-08 15:37:55
Yesterday I was driving West past Burgaw, NC, when I stopped my car on the middle of a two lane road and reached for my cell phone.  A very large animal was loping across the road a few hundred feet ahead of me - I started to inch forward to get a better look when it looked at me and then bounded across the road to disappear in the forest on the other side, too fast to even start to take a picture.  At first I thought I must be seeing a bear but at that point I clearly saw its entire profile with its long tail - it looked exactly like a mountain lion, except it appeared black as night in the full daylight at about 1 in the afternoon.  I am from California and not at all familiar with the wildlife in this area and thought perhaps I had seen a black panther, only to read on the Internet that there aren't any in this area.  What could it have been?  It was astonishingly large - appeared to be the size of a Great Dane.  As I drove on I thought I needed to get my vision checked!

AshevilleMomma wrote at 2012-09-11 00:44:01
I'm glad I found these replies. I have a story that has been bugging me for two years because not too many people believe I saw what I did. I was hanging up clothes on the line, mid day, when my (then) 10 year old son who was playing near by shouted to me. I turned to see what he was yelling at me for and he pointed to the edge of our property on the other side of our railroad tie fence that backs up to a hardwood forest. There stood a large animal that was bigger than my German Shepard and Golden Retriever. It was coal black with a long body, long tail,and broad flat face. My first thought was "wow, that's a funny looking dog", my next thought was, "wow, that's  an unusual looking bear," Then it- as my son would describe it- "smiled" at us and we saw its teeth. I could also make out the greenish eyes then and I knew it was a panther. My German Shepard was actually standing next to me shaking and our Golden Retriever was on the deck where he growled like I never heard him do and his hair stood up and he leaped and took off after it. Our dog had never acted that quick for anything. Despite the quickness of our golden the cat took off at a lightning fast rate and was no match for our dog. I was worried about our dog being attacked and was screaming for him to come back and he did about 15 minutes later. My son and I stood there shaking. I asked him what he saw and he said the cat was moving across the forest on his belly like our house cat would. When he got to the fence he stood up and that's when my son called me. There's a few old timers that I told this story too and they tell me they used to see panthers quite often, but everyone else says they don't exist. We know what we saw. It was a panther. I live in Asheville, NC along the Blue Ridge Parkway at the top of a mountain with 2000 rolling acres behind me. We get deer, bear, and turkey sightings almost daily.

michelle wrote at 2012-10-22 21:23:42
My husband seen a cougar at 85/mallerd creek road a couple of months ago. He is a deer hunter and has seen many bobcats and is sure of what he saw. In fact he pulled his truck over and watch it for a few seconds before it went back into the woods.

Bertie Girl wrote at 2013-03-14 02:38:02
I live in Bertie County. I have seen the panther twice in the November 2012.  The first sighting was at approximately 11:00 pm and the panther crossed the road in front of my car.  I saw it very clearly and it was a blotchy black and had a long, very long tail that was long enough it curled up at the end.  It crossed the road in a movement low to the road, creeping as cats do when they creep up on prey.  The second sighting wad about a mile from the other sighting.  My mom was with me and saw the panther also. My friend is a NC Wildlife Officer and I described it to him.  He along with almost everyone else didn't believe me.  My dad told me that in the 1960s that the panther was seen on a regular basis.  I have heard the cries in the woods really late at night.  It really is scar

y since the two sightings were a mIile from our home.  

I do believe....

David1 wrote at 2013-12-10 18:36:47
Shawnasee, just wanted to let you know the black cat you saw on town creek road I spotted as well on weaver rd and on batts rd in Wilson county.I got a great look at 100 yds. Definitely a cougar by its size its probably a jaguarunda. I haven't seen it in 2 years but in 2012 a few people spotted 1 big cat by Maccripine country club. David Batts

Randy wrote at 2014-01-02 00:32:16
On 27 December 2013 at about 1am I was driving south bound on highway 74 in North Carolina ( At mile marker 79). I saw a pair of animal eyes in the darkness, directly at the side of the road. I presumed it was a racoon. I looked closely as I drove by.  I was excited to see, very clearly, a large wild cat. The cat was much bigger than a domestic cat or bobcat. It was tan in colour with a long tail. It was not a dog.

Being a visitor to the Carolina's, I figured sightings of panthers or cougars must be common. I am pretty sure about what I saw, so I'll consider myself lucky.

Tasha wrote at 2014-11-04 00:06:50
I also live in wilson county and one day saw a huge black cat like animal come across my yard from the woods I was alerted of this by my husky who barked but then hide underneath my car. I couldn't believe my eyes and when I told people about seeing this black panther they said yeah right ur crazy but I know what I know that day bout 4 years old and I know my husky wouldn't hide from a house cat

Kyoneita Barnes wrote at 2015-03-10 07:39:01
I live in wilson county north carolina and one nigjt me and my cousin was riding down tilghman road and seen are large cat like figure running through the feild it was cat like not running like a dog but more like a cat glide running action it looked like a jaguar or something. It scared me and i was riding i told my cousin oh my god did you see that she said yes!!!OMG

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Jonathan Wright


I can answer questions about wild mammals and other animals, as well as extinct animals and zoos. I am not an expert about every animal species. I can look up information from books and the internet, but can't verify if all the information is true. Please don't ask questions about: 1. Pets. I am not a vet. Please contact a vet if your pet is ill. You may need to spend some money if you want your pet to live. Don't get a pet if you don't know how to look after it and if you can't provide it with the space, food and possible companions that will help it live a healthy life. Don't take animals from the wild, unless they are ill and/or injured and you can protect them until a wildlife charity can help. It is cruel to take animals from their parents, especially if the parents will look for the babies, while putting their other babies at risk. You may be breaking the law by keeping wild animals or you may need a licence to look after some species. Please check with a local wildlife group. 2. Eggs: Please don't remove eggs from nests. The mother birds provide the right temperature for the eggs and won't sit on them if the temperature is warm enough for them to develop naturally. It is illegal to remove eggs of some species and, unless you have an incubator or a broody hen, the egg may not develop. If you are allowed to touch the eggs, you can candle them to see if they are fertile. If theys aren't fertile, they won't hatch. 3. Fights: Please don't ask about fights between different animals. These questions assume that individuals of two species fight each time they meet and that one species will always be victorious over another. This is untrue. There are cases where a live mouse has been fed to a venomous snake, bitten the snake leading to the snake's demise. 4: Diseases: Please ask doctors or other medical experts about diseases that you may catch from animals. I can't advise on how to deal with viruses, bacteria etc.


I have a zoology degree and have been interested in animals since I was two. I am a zoo volunteer at London Zoo. I have appeared on a BBC Radio Quiz, 'Wildbrain'.

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BSC degree in Zoology. 'A' level in Zoology. 'O' Level in Biology.

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