Carolina panther playing in Angier?
Northern Harnett County may be rural, but it's far from wild. Still, some local residents insist they have seen a black panther prowling nearby woods and fields.
"About five years ago, we saw it crossing the intersection," Ethan Gardner said. "My uncle said he spotted it on his back porch walking around.”
Gardner said he's convinced the animal he saw was a panther because of its tail.
"You know it's a panther because the tail is so long on it," he said.
Carolyn Rickard, a spokeswoman for the state Wildlife Resources Commission, said there are no black panthers roaming wild in North Carolina.
Bobcats, which are smaller and have brownish fur, can be found in undeveloped areas statewide, Rickard said, adding that people are probably confusing the two species.
Black panthers are native to forested regions of India, China, Nepal and Myanmar.
Still, reports of a Carolina panther continue to pour into The Angier Independent newspaper, reporter Wendy Spears said.
One local couple said they saw a big, black cat devouring a deer carcass on July 4.
"We've had about 10 callers, maybe, (and) people that just come up to me and talk to me about it," Spears said. "A lot of people have heard the panther noises."
One theory is that a panther might have escaped from captivity in central North Carolina.
"It seems to have been around for quite some years, 10 years maybe," Spears said.