Family spots possible panther

A family 4th of July get together turned into a late night search for a possible black panther. Thursday night, at around 7:30, Karen Fory said her brother-in-law spotted a large black animal in the field behind her friend's home located on Captain Cade Road.

“You could see it from the fence and it was pretty big. So, I came back to the truck and got the binoculars and we were looking at it through the binoculars,” she explained.

Cathy Irwin, who lives in the home, said Fory called her over immediately to see what they considered to be a black panther.

“We were standing about 100 feet away and you could see it. It was very large,” Irwin said.

Fory explained that she grabbed her HD camera and put an extended lens on and quickly snapped several pictures.

“We got pictures of it sitting, jumping like it was playing and standing like it was proceeding to take off,” Irwin said.

After considering it to be a large dangerous animal, they called the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office. Deputies, Wildlife and Fisheries agents and Zoo of Acadiana officials investigated the scene late Thursday night. However, the mysterious animal was never located. They re-visited the scene early Friday morning, but found nothing but what they believe to be bobcat tracks.

Fory said, “Wildlife and Fisheries aren't saying yes this is or no this isn't until they know for sure.”

Officials with Wildlife and Fisheries told KLFY they can't confirm or deny the sighting of a large wild cat from pictures alone. They said leopards, cougars and panthers are not common in the area. However, if it is a wild cat, it could possibly be a pet that escaped. The question still remains. Was it a large domesticated cat or a ferocious panther? Irwin said the idea that it's a house cat just isn't a possibility.

“That was a dangerous animal,” she began. “and anything can happen at any given time especially with all the children in the neighborhoods.”

Iberia Parish Sheriff Deputies said they will continue to monitor the area throughout the coming days along with Wildlife and Fisheries. They said they are considering the possibility of putting game cameras in the area to catch the four-legged suspect.

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