Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 7, 2014


Jerry Newton said he was thinking about the approaching bow season when he checked the cards in his motion-triggered game camera this week. When he checked the images, he saw the usual critters – deer, raccoon, turkey, what appeared to be a fox, and a final one that he described as “a damned big ol’ kitty cat.”

The cameras are behind his house in Oakey Ridge, south of Sanford, and the card was in the camera from July 7 until Aug. 4. Newton believes that “big ol’ kitty cat” is a cougar or a mountain lion, and set out to find someone to take a look.

The Star-News shared Newton’s photos with wildlife biologist Mark Bailey, who immediately said, “It’s a bobcat.”

Asked if the cat wasn’t a little tall for a bobcat, he agreed, but said it definitely isn’t long enough to be a cougar.

“Put it on your website and people will start commenting they’ve seen black panthers,” he said. “A black panther is just a melanistic phase of a jaguar or a leopard, and they’re not even found in North America.”

Melanism is the opposite of albinism, and is characterized by dark pigmentation.

The tail of this particular cat near Sanford was not captured. Bailey said he’s seen bobcats in Alabama with 6 or 7 inch tails, and long-tailed bobcats with tails reaching 18 inches in length have been documented in Florida.

Newton also has the images on the big screen at his business, The Idle Hour.

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