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Italian Mystery Cat Hunt

Posted by: Loren Coleman on November 6th, 2008

On November 3, 2008, police and animal rescue squads were combing the countryside around the southern Italian city of Benevento, in the latest in a 15-year-long string of panther alerts in Italy.

The teams moved in after a hunter said he saw ”a big cat, perhaps a panther” prowling near the town. Vets found prints and tracks they said were consistent with those of a large feline.

Forestry guards are beating the undergrowth to keep the animal in a wood where it is thought to have taken refuge, local authorities said.

Helicopters have been called in to help the hunt, they said.

The alert is Italy’s first panther spotting in two years and the eighth in 15 years. Many of the subsequent hunts have turned out to be fruitless. The last case was in April 2006 when a big game hunt was launched around the northern Italian city of Piacenza after repeated sightings
of a supposed panther. A few years before in the same area, hunters and farmers reported seeing a puma.

A similar scare hit the outskirts of Rome in February 2006 after six goats were found dead. Locals calmed down when experts said the tooth marks on the goats were those of a big dog.

In December 2005, Turin (home of the famed Shroud) was shaken by panther fears after a series of sightings sparked rumours that a visiting Moscow zoo might have lost one of its biggest draws. The zoo squashed the reports, saying it had no panthers but only dogs, camels and horses. But the reports revived memories of a wild cat chase near Turin six years previously. That 1999 report spurred copycat incidents as feline fever spread to the provincial border with Como.

Most of the other reports of predators on the loose have come amid midsummer news droughts known to journalistic insiders as ”the silly season.”

Panthers were reported to have been sighted in the harsh landscape of central Sardinia in 2001 and the rolling countryside of central Umbria in 1993 and 1995. After the second Umbria sighting locals said they had also seen a lion roaming in the vicinity.

Thanks to Paul Cropper for the heads up on this report.

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.


4 Responses to “Italian Mystery Cat Hunt”

  1. cryptidsrus responds:

    Hopefully this tale will turn out to be substantive and one will be captured.
    Would be great.
    The season would not be so “silly” after all. :)

  2. gkingdano responds:

    I don’t understand how these nea sayers can always say that ANY animal that they have not seen personally are just hoaxes and hallucination. Don’t they know that there are thousands of these cats kept as “pets” by the big bad moncho guys to show their worth. It only takes one slip for these cats to escape and you know that since these guys are sooo tough they are not going to report the escape to anyone (it would make them look bad). EVERY one of these exotic pets should require permits to have and massive fines if they can,t show that they still have the animal in humane and proper enclosures.

  3. Dj Plasmic Nebula responds:

    SMILODON.. it’s calling out Smilodon..

    It may be a Sabre tooth Tiger. :)

    or something more new to us..

    It could have longer teeth than any feline including the smilodon.

    it could leap farther, it can jump higher. who knows. what these animals hold in their designed body. Whether you believe in evolution or creationism or something else, these animals are still bizarre and unknown to the modern world. well at least to some of us cause some people may see them on a daily basis, and don’t think nothing much of them, just that their animals.
    Some people also don’t even know their unknown to science, so they say nothing of the creature they saw that that can go to worldwide/nation wide news on the tv.

  4. Brian Reily responds:

    Remnants of a Panthera leo europaea population, perhaps?

    Its more likely an escapee, but perhaps there is still a population of big cats in Europe.



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