Mystery Black Leopard Sighted In Ohio

Posted by: Loren Coleman on July 11th, 2011

Local Dayton, Ohio animal control officials on July 11, 2011, confirmed three sightings earlier this year of a black leopard, but said the public shouldn’t panic. One wonders why they waited so long to go public with the information. It turns that an internet scoop caused officials to react with a statement. Why were they keeping the sightings quiet?

The “leopard” (no one has confirmed it is a leopard; that’s just what the media is calling it) hasn’t been seen since April 2011, said Tim Harrison, director of Outreach for Animals, a local nonprofit dedicated to educating the public on the dangers of owning exotic animals. Maj. Dave Hale of the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said two sightings were around the Stillwater River and Frederick Pike. No one has reported a pet leopard missing to the sheriff’s office, he said, and the animal — if it is real — could be well out of the area by now, according to the Dayton Daily News.

Investigators from Outreach for Animals and the Humane Society of Greater Dayton searched the area three times with infrared cameras and haven’t seen so much as a paw print in nearly two months. “This cat is most likely back with his owners,” Harrison said.

A black leopard averages in size from 60 to 100 pounds. One witness said it was bigger than a black Labrador Retriever, with a long bushy tail.
A number of people in the Dayton area own leopards and African lions, said Harrison, a retired Oakwood police officer. “They do get out every once in a while,” he said.

Ohio is one of less than 10 states that don’t regulate ownership of wild animals, according to the U.S. Humane Society. Regulations are now under study by Gov. Kasich’s administration.
Harrison said owning an exotic animal is like having a “time bomb” that could go off at any time, even in its owner’s home.

“If you see something like this please do not run, because that triggers a natural instinct in the cat to chase you and knock you down,” Harrison said.
The Daily, an iPad news app, published an article Monday on the leopard saying the animal was prowling streets and parks. “(The article) shouldn’t have been done the way it was,” Harrison said.

Maybe it was a “black mystery panther,” a Panthera atrox, or an unknown melanistic cryptid puma, after all, and not a “black leopard.”

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. 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. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “Mystery Black Leopard Sighted In Ohio”

  1. Redrose999 responds:

    Very cool. Let us know when they know more. I would like to think that some of the American Jags adapted and have been hidden for over 100 years, or even that there are black cougars running around!

    But I suspect it’s likely a big cat that escaped it’s owner or from a small population that has built up from the exotic cat industry in this country.

  2. Hapa responds:

    If i had a nickle for every time i’ve read a article or heard about sightings of a big black American cat, I’d by out Microsoft, Colorado and Hawaii. Its amazing how so many sightings over several centuries have been largely forgotten by most. Some sightings no doubt are exotic pets or mis identification (one report turned out to be a black Great Dane), But Jaguars did indeed live in the states at one time, and Jaguars like Leopards can be born highly melanistic (black panther).

    One major reason why hunters might be reluctant to shoot a black panther in the states or Canada: if its an endangered species, the shooter might face prosecution, jail time. Still, if there is something unknown at work here, it will hopefully be discovered before it goes extinct.

    BTW: Jaguars are making a comeback in Arizona at least: might not be long before a Black panther is found there.

  3. Red Earth White Lies responds:

    Yep, that’s their modus operandi out here in the Midwest.

    We can be sure of one thing, if it was a cougar, it would be wild native and not an escaped pet, since we don’t have breeders braggin’ Eureka! we’re breedin’ melanistic cougars for top dollar.
    The peculiar appearance of a cougar when running with its snaky cat-like look with extraordinarily long furry rudder-like tail should be obvious and described in at least some percentage of the eyewitness reports.

    Any Jaguar (Tropical cat, but a good swimmer) making it outside of Arizona/New Mexico/Texas/Louisiana past the Ozarks into even the lower MidWest (Iowa/Missouri/Tennessee) hitting the intimidating barriers of the Mississippi/Ohio river system, would be likely considered an escaped exotic and have “open season” declared on itself with impunity, regardless of how Federal regs could be interpreted.

    Most traditional reports of “Black Panther” in Kentucky/Indiana/Ohio usually describe something the size of female cougars which would be close to the size of your average leopard. So if a leopard most likely a release or escape… as spotted leopards are rarely reported, which would be the case of any substantial native feral population breeding since the early 19th Century slave trader days.

    Need some specimens sent for DNA studies in case there is a weird interspecies hybrid with cougars or even big ole’ black feral toms with a black color phase dominant gene.

    Always had a suspicion that the Australian black 5′ to 6′ long 80 lb 97% felis catus was a classified bio-engineering project between the Aussies/USA IMC to have mass sport slaughterers of rabbits and other introduced animal plagues while at the same time minimizing the danger to human & commercial livestock as introduced wild felines would pose

  4. Hapa responds:

    Red Earth white lies:

    Australian 5′ to 6′ long 80 lbs 97% felis catus…?

    Do you have any pics or links?

  5. Wayfarer4000 responds:

    There have been several reports from members of the general public concerning an ordinary tan Mountain Lion in Stark County, Ohio. These too, have been met with skepticism based on the shock of disbelief and a single fuzzy digital photo that was taken with a common digital snapshot camera at a distance of at least 100 meters. I have my doubts about the picture too but I have no reason to doubt that wild Mountain Lions have either migrated back into Ohio or perhaps, had never been entirely extirpated in the first place. That however, is a far cry from a black panther. Given the widespread tales of such creatures in Ohio and the results from a History Channel piece on them, I suspect this is a case of misidentification. Please note, I did say suspect. I would leave open the remote possibility of the existence of a melanistic strain of puma concolour in middle Appalachians and along the Ohio River.

  6. Tloves2grow responds:

    This would of been even more shocking to me if I had not seen two cougars crossing the road and going into the woods towards my house two weeks ago. I think this was a black cougar/puma/panther whatever you choose to call it. They are obviously living among us. I have a large German Shepard and both of the cats that crossed my path were probably 30-40 lbs heavier then him. They were light tan with a large torso, chest, thick legs and a very long thick tails. I reported it to the local police whom showed little concern but after some research I came into contact with a local tracker who has witnessed and also tracks the same breed of cougar that I saw. Apparently I was not the only person who has sighted these cats. Most of the local sightings are within a mile of my home!

  7. Red Earth White Lies responds:

    The late Carl Hagenbeck of Mokele Mbembe fame bred some of these: pumapard.

    As black leopards were the predominate type brought to America since the 1700’s, could repeated cross matings have resulted in a dominant dark color phase in the USA hybrid populations? The typical USA half the weight size reports jive.

  8. pumpkinlettuce responds:

    Yesterday this came up on the news again, a man in the Springfield-Dayton area claims to have seen it laying in a tree. He left a meat bait of some sort which was picked to the bone and has pictures of a pawprint and some droppings. Hard to say if it’s real or not.

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