Thursday, October 15, 2009
Beware the Black Jaguar . . .
Just watched a Monster Quest episode which examined the phenomenon of big black cat sightings in the eastern United States, and specifically in New York state. This has been a subject which has fascinated me since at least my days spent as a preacher in Connerville, Oklahoma. Most of the old-timers in the church's congregation had some story or other of encounters with these elusive cryptids. One old fellow said he believed they changed colors from summer to winter, as he'd seen both spotted and melanistic jaguars (though he did not know specifically that they were jaguars), and also big and small headed (relative to body size) big black cats (jaguars and jaguarundis, respectively). My paternal grandfather got a good glimpse of one of these so-called "black panthers" running across the road and up an embankment north of Ada, Oklahoma back in the sixties or seventies.
Whilst researching the subject, I remembered an article in Outdoor Oklahoma magazine which told that at the time (late eighties or early nineties) Oklahoma had an average of twenty big black cat sightings a month, and that Texas had an average of one hundred. Upon contacting the Oklahoma Game and Fish furbearer expert, she said that in spite of the fact that their department received so many reports and that an Ardmore hunter had video taped an easily identifiable jaguar whilst he sat in a treestand, that Oklahoma not only did not maintain a wild population of jaguars, their was officially not even a breeding population of cougars in the state. A Murray County game warden told a different story, however. According to him, jaguars, ocelots and jaguarundis all travel up the riverways from Mexico through Texas and at least as far north as Oklahoma. He told me a number of firsthand accounts, and I believe suggested that the reason state and federal officials deny the existence of these amazing predators is to avoid the hassle of administering these endangered species.
There are reports of these elusive cats throughout the eastern United States, and in the UK scarcely a moon cycle passes during which someone doesn't report the apparition of a big black cat ("black panther") stalking the moors and farmlands of Great Britain. Below is a still from a video taken by an off duty bobby in Britain which shows one of these cryptids next to a railroad track. British gauge tracks are the same a American, 4' 8 1/2", clearly showing that thought not a full sized jaguar, this is no house cat!!!
It is indeed amazing that despite the encroachment of cities and towns and rural populations and roads and industry throughout this land, 400 pound predators can successfully abide and roam the countryside without official detection. One theory that I have come up with that might be a bit beyond the scope of common sense is that these mysterious shimmering obsidian stalkers of the night are supernatural in origin. How else could they manage to elude the many bobbies who have investigated reports in the English, Welsh and Scottish countryside? and how else would they end up in Great Britain in the first place?
From a purely naturalistic standpoint, however, it is a testimony to the resilience of nature that these very large predators can make a living in places where people have so depleted habitat and the health of what wild places remain, and evade the hazards of both bullets and bureaucrats. And it is also reassuring for a wandering wildman such as myself to know that the expansive web of official government control cannot contain such creatures' wanderings.
Long live the big cats and all things natural, wild and free!!!!!!!