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New “Black Panther” Sighting in Decatur

Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 18th, 2010

As folks who have read Mysterious America know, encounters with large, unknown melanistic cats have a long history in central Illinois.

Now comes breaking news of an extremely recent sighting from a city, which happens to be my hometown. The location is surrounded by corn and soybean fields and farms. The sighting noted took place on the north side of the town of Decatur, Illinois.

This comes in from Cyndie Simon, who was in Decatur for the funeral of her father.

Ms. Simon emails:

I would like to report what appeared to be a very large black panther running across the cul-de-sac and in-between [the houses of 109 and 115 Cambridge Court, in the Windsor Village area] at about 9:30 pm [on March 11, 2010].

What baffles me is how it just seemed to disappear into the dark. We first thought it was a huge black lab  [but we] then quickly realized, no this thing is running like a cat and much larger in size. There were four of us that saw it. It was real.

Has anyone heard of other recent sightings from Illinois?

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


11 Responses to “New “Black Panther” Sighting in Decatur”

  1. onihunter responds:

    One of my first investigations was into “glowing” black panther sightings near Decatur, Ga. in the early 1980′s. The area has been as known as Panthersville due to the centuries-long history of black cat sightings. During the spate I investigated there were several pet killings, including a mass killing at a yard devoted to training guard dogs. That Decatur name appears again. More of the name game?

  2. Outdors21 responds:

    I have family in the southeastern portion of the state of Georgia who swear that ‘big black cats’ are very common in their area, and well known locally. Every hunter and/or farmer knows they are there. This is the Vidalia area, I’m speaking of.

  3. Shelley responds:

    This isn’t recent, but did anyone see the pictures of the huge cougar that was killed near Centralia in 2008 in the most recent Fortean Times? It was stuffed and is still owned by the people who accidentally hit it with their car. Even though this is within the coverage area of our local paper and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I don’t remember hearing anything about it. Anyone else?

    I don’t know about the Decatur area, but the deer population around here is getting so heavy that it could easily support a breeding colony of big cats. If the equally large colony of coyotes would let them in. We’ve lost all of our feral cats and the neighbors keep losing their outdoor pets.

  4. dawgvet responds:

    onihunter, I had not heard that Decatur, GA is called Panthersville; this interests me because I was born in Decatur and many of my relatives still live there.
    As for black cats in southeast Georgia, my step-father and my mother both saw a large black cat (near Richmond Hill, south of Savannah) in a rural area more than once. Other people in the area have seen it also.

    Since this Illinois sighting has such a specific location, has anyone checked for tracks?

  5. scotty425 responds:

    Shelley,
    Being from Centralia, I can safely say that photo/news story was a hoax. There was no listing of any one with that name in the local phone book. I have a good friend who lives right where the cougar was supposedly killed and he knew nothing about it or the people involved. I want to say that the internet photo was later traced to Wyoming, but not sure.

    On the other hand, do I believe believe Illinois has a growing cougar population? Let’s just say I am less skeptical than I used to be.

  6. Apache responds:

    I have seen four cougar in the past five years in Central Illinois. That includes two black panther. Most of my neighbors have had sightings through the years as well. Lots of deer and lots of wooded streams.

  7. Shelley responds:

    Thanks, scotty425! I knew there would be somebody on this list from that area that would know whether that was a real IL cougar or not. Somebody should write to FT and tell them, as they do not like to get caught with their editorial shorts down.

    No argument from me about the possibility of cougars in southern IL. There are some pretty remote and wild areas around here and plenty around here to eat. With all the guns, it’s only a matter of time before one of them is really shot by a hunter. Since they don’t legally exist here, it can’t be illegal to shoot one.

    Shame about that beautiful and huge cougar, no matter where he came from.

  8. patience responds:

    Dawgvet, onihunter is mistaken. Decatur is not, as far as I am aware, referred to anywhere as “Panthersville.” However, there is a suburb of Atlanta south of Decatur that IS named Panthersville. I expect this is where the confusion comes from.

  9. Loren Coleman responds:

    Let’s remember that just because someone writes into this comments section disputing a “recalled” event does not make their debunking factual.

    Illinois has a documented history of puma kills. See my new posting on this, here.

    chicpuma2
    The Chicago puma, April 2008.

  10. Hoytshooter responds:

    “Black Panthers” have always interested me because outside of domestic cats there is no black member of the cat family. There are melanistic variations of several large members of the cat family but none which would be found in the United States, outside of possibly some black jaguars in the southern parts of the country. Most reports of “black panthers” match cougars/pumas in description, except for the color, but there has never been a report of any sightings of a black cougar/puma in the wild

    Making it even more interesting is Australia, which has no large wild cats, also has had numerous reports of “black panthers’. Is it possible “black panthers” are a feline version of our beloved Sasquatch/yeti/Yowie, the only difference being the cats seem to be more commonly seen?

  11. onihunter responds:

    I have been misunderstood. Panthersville is an area southeast of Decatur. It is near the I-285 and I-20 intersection.



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