Here’s an idea for a future science fair project. Create a poster putting one black dot or dark push pin on a map for each of the black panther sightings in the general area of your school or the school holding the fair. The student scientist might be surprised as to the high level of interest that such a poster presentation would generate.
A situation reflective of this is occurring right now (late May 2010) in a small northern California community that most people might associate more with another cryptid of the hairy hominoid kind than of black panthers. A series of new melanistic large cat sightings have caused a graphic warning to be issued worthy of any science fair poster presentation.
I was contacted by Steven Streufert, the owner and manager of the used bookstore named Bigfoot Books, located in the tiny community of Willow Creek, California.
Streufert wrote me late overnight: “This black panther thing is bigger on the east coast, but my kid’s classmates at Trinity Valley Elementary School in Willow Creek have seen them on the forested edge of her school campus (see attached photo of warning sign).
“The Dept. of Fish and Game rejected the idea as ludicrous, and assumed it must have been a bear. They say one has to attack before they will take action. But adults and the children have seen them on multiple occasions, both black and normal colorings. It is a bit scary to have cougars lurking on the edge of the playground, but black ones is even stranger.”
This warning was posted on a local grocery’s bulletin board by concerned parents, about the situation at the Trinity Valley Elementary School, Willow Creek, California. The sign has since vanished. Streufert Photo.
Then Streufert added the note that a local guy from Salyer, California, had sent this message yesterday: “Here have been documented sightings of black panthers in the vicinity, including a small one that hung around near the old JJ’s barber shop.”
Black panthers, melanistic mountain lions, and black cougars, whatever you want to call them, are not suppose to exist in the United States and Canada, but people keep on seeing them. California, as we all know, is well-known for its long history of cryptozoological Black Panthers.
There just are not suppose to be any “black panthers” – i.e. melanistic large felids – in California. Yes, mountain lions exist there, but black mountain lions are not verified zoologically. Black leopards and black jaguars are known, however, they do not naturally live in California.
But California’s Black Panthers are a cryptid population with a well-established legacy, for example, that inhabits several pages of reports in my book, Mysterious America.
Mysterious America’sChapter 12 discusses the flap of sightings beginning in 1972 of the melanistic pumas seen on Mt. Diablo and the booklet at the time, which already talked about the “Black Mountain Lion of Devil’s Hole,” often seen in Las Trampas Regional Park. A new 2008 wave of sightings took place near there, as well as in the nearby East Bay Hills in 2009.
Why should anyone be surprised that in the inland, rural area of Willow Creek the locals are having their own black panther close encounters now? But there will be those who do have doubts (especially the state wildlife folks, apparently). Perhaps the student observations will only be taken seriously after a young person is hurt?
Yes, that certainly seems worthy of a science fair certificate.
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.