Those rumors quickly turned into reality when Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents were seen roaming the Foreman Estates subdivision in Nunez late Wednesday afternoon.
“We had a call in reporting a sighting of a black panther,” said Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Law Enforcement Agent Derek Logan. “Within minutes of arriving at the reported site, Agent Lonnie Cambpell and I were able to find several fresh tracks. After searching the trees and the brush, the animal was not found.”
According to the size and deep impression of the tracks, Logan estimates the animal weighs well over 60 pounds.
After speaking with residents in the neighborhood, Logan was able to speak with Jake Touchet who had actually seen the animal on several occasions within the last two weeks.
“We were able to zoom in on the animal and took pictures of it walking along the fence line,” said Touchet. “I was able to get one of it marking it’s territory.”
Black panthers are adapted to living in a wide variety of habitats within their range. They are habitat generalists, meaning that they use a variety of habitat types, including forests, prairies and swamps.
They are solitary and territorial animals that travel hundreds of miles within their home range. Panthers are mostly active between dusk and dawn. Males have a home range of 200 square miles and females about 75 square miles.
One of the reasons that black panthers are able to live in such variety of habitats is that they can eat many types of animals. Their food includes various species of mammals, reptiles, and birds, all of which live in different habitats. They are also able to live in human-populated areas more effectively than any other big cats if they have to.
Black panthers are the strongest climbers of the cat family. A black panther develops tree-climbing skills at a very early age to avoid attack from deadly enemies.
Logan said all reports and pictures will be turned over to the Kori LeGlue, the department’s biologist working in the Lake Charles area.
“Until we find out exactly what this animal is,” said LeGlue, “all we can do is to tell the people to take precautionary measures. Beware of your surroundings and don’t let your small children or pets play outside alone.”