An exploration of our Earth's ever-captivating fauna through musings on the bizarre side of Zoology, Cryptozoology, Paleontology, and Paleoanthropology

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mississippi Man Shares Encounter With Purported Out of Place Jaguarundi





I recently received an email which contained a striking subject line titled "black cats". I have been welcoming people to share their reports of unidentified and out of place animals for quite some time now, and I have finally received an email regarding a related sighting. I have received permission to share the person's name, the location of the alleged encounter, and the report here. The eyewitness is James Francis, a 40 year old man from Mississippi. He told me that he has had a lifelong interest in animals, nature, and cryptozoology, but was contacting me this time to share two encounters which he has had with a large black-colored cat. I have a great interest in reports of "black panthers" and relict Eastern cougars in North America, so I was extremely excited to receive this report and be able to share it. Here is his report:
I have seen a large black cat on my wooded rural property twice. I called the Dept. of Wildlife and they said they get reports of them all the time. This cat was quite large but nowhere near the size of a full grown mountain lion, leopard, or jaguar. I would estimate it under 2' tall and maybe around 4' plus long. It had a very long tail. It looked like a miniature mountain lion. It wasn't built as heavily as a leopard or as boxy as a jaguar. After doing much research, I'm convinced that what I saw was a jaguarundi. While I have been passionate about animals all my life, this is a cat that I had never heard of before. They are from South and Central America, and do resemble a small mountain lion. They come in a tawny color very similar to a mountain lion and a very dark grey that can look black. The first one (sighting) was probably about 3 years ago. It was sometime in the fall probably late October or early November. That's about the best I can remember. My living room has a wall of windows that look out to my backyard and several wooded acres of my own and neighbors' property. I simply looked out the window and saw it crossing the yard as clear as day. It was maybe 100 feet away. It walked out of the woods and walked across an open area of my yard. I ran outside, but it was long gone by the time I got there. I do remember that it was about 3:30 in the afternoon. I really can't remember when I saw the second one. It might have been a little over a year ago. I do remember that it was about the same time of day. It was in the same area of my yard and looked like it was sniffing around underneath a big cedar tree in my yard. Again, I ran outside just hoping for a closer look. I got a little closer, maybe 70 feet from it. I saw it run away this time. It topped a little rise in my yard that leads into the woods and it was just gone, which doesn't really surprise me since it's a cat.

The image which James Francis included in his email

Mr. Francis claims that the animal which he had seen looked exactly like a jaguarundi. Jaguarundis (Puma yagouaroundi) are a small species of cat which are known to live in South and Central America, and possibly in some regions of Texas. These felids have an appearance which is similar to a weasel with short legs, a small and flattened head, rounded ears, and a long tail. Jaguarundis have very large home ranges compared to other felids, and live in environments such as rain forest, swamp and savanna woodland, savanna, thickets, and semi-arid thorn scrub. They are also a largely diurnal species which has about thirteen distinct vocalizations. I emailed the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks regarding whether jaguarundi were a recognized species of Mississippi or not. Robert L Jones replied, saying that there are no records of jaguarundi in Mississippi so they are not considered a species which lives there. So Mr. Francis did allegedly spot an animal which is not supposed to exist in his state; an animal that would be considered an "out of place" animal of cryptozoology.


A map showing the regions where jaguarundis are recognized as a native species;  Mississippi is not on this map.
Different images of jaguarundi individuals and a jaguarundi skull.
 Jaguarundi video - Puma yagouaroundi - 01 - ARKive

An interesting theory which has existed in the cryptozoological community is that some of the sightings of black panthers in the Southern and Southwestern United States are actually of Jaguarundis. On the Texas Cryptid Hunter blog, an interesting trail camera photo which seems to show a relatively large and dark colored felid was posted. The photograph was taken in the Hill Country of Texas, and seems to show a jaguraundi (according to Mike's analysis). After examining the photograph and different models of game feeders, Mike came to the conclusion that the cat is smaller than a jaguar or cougar but is likely larger than a feral cat. Chester Moore, a naturalist of the Southern Panther Search, has concluded that the animal's dark color, body position, and short legs likely point to a jaguarundi. Jaguarundis are not supposed to exist in this area, so this may very well be photographic evidence for the existence of jaguarundis in a region in which they aren't recognized.

Surprisingly, Mr. Francis' sighting of an out of place jaguarundi is not the first. Eyewitnesses and investigators continue to work towards the existence of these species to be recognized, and hopefully it won't be long until people like James Francis (whom I would like to readily thank for emailing me) will be proven correct.
A possible jaguarundi track from an area of Texas where they are not a recognized species

References:

18 comments:

  1. Looking at the map of known range of these cats it is very possible they have moved into the US and to Mississippi. The way the population branches as the cats enter Mexico gives us a pattern. The cats appear to be following the coast lines, rivers, and climate zones. Below is a link to maps of Mexico showing each. If you compare the cat's range to them, they match quite closely.

    So if the cats followed the coast they could go clear to Florida. Going up the Rio Grande river they could easily get to the Canadian river which drains into the Mississippi river. Not hard to imagine them all over the south anymore.

    http://www.planetware.com/map/mexico-mexico-climate-zones-map-mex-mex3.htm

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    1. Very true Big Jim Jr. But the game commissions won't recognize these animals' presence, which I think is saddening and uncredible.

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    2. About 15 years ago I spotted one run across Highway 49 south of Hattiesburg, Ms. At night. It flew in the air like a flash, long strided, across the highway. Pretty awesome. I was in shock. Not dear! You could tell it was a cat. I have never experienced a siting again. I do watch for them.

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  2. Hello, and thanks for this page.

    In 1995 or 1996 I was in the Ocala national forest near bucks lake in Florida. A friend and I were trying to dig out the tires of the pickup truck we had gotten stuck. About 300 feet away I would guess, we clearly saw what looked to be a family group of 3 black panthers. At least that is what I always have said they were. The largest had to be 2 to 3 feet tall and 4 or 5 feet in length. The middle one was slightly smaller and there was a small one following behind. The smaller one must have been a foot tall and 3 feet in length.

    They may have been bigger than my estimate but certainly not smaller.

    I assumed it must be a dad, mom and baby. They all had long tails that curled up very majestic looking. They were absolutely all black. It was middle of the day and full sun. We weren't drinking or on and sort of drugs, in case that matters.

    They didn't seem interested in us at all and calmly walked into the forest, we were on a dirt road near an open clearing.

    I remember telling a forest ranger the next day about the sighting but he told me that there were no black panthers in Florida but I know what we saw.

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    1. Armadillos and coyotes moved into N. Mississipii during my lifetime. So could these cats. Yes I've seen one

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  3. I've seen an animal on the Little River National Wildlife Refuge in SE Oklahoma that, if it wasn't a red-phase jaguarundi, it's unrecognized by science.

    There seems sometimes to be nobody further behind the curve of relevant science than state game officials.

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  4. We live in Byhalia MS. The panther we saw today definitely black (saw in daylight approx 150' away & she had a much smaller black panther several yards behind her ( guessing her baby?)..estimate 2' tall by 6' long. 3-18-2014

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  5. I googled black panthers in MS & a hunter posted video he took of one in pike county MS. Good video & taken in daytime. Watch it.

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  6. I live in Byhalia, off of Desoto Rd, and I have seen the large black cat twice. Once in May 2014 and today June 2014. I have not had a very good look but I am positive that what I am seeing is in fact a large cat. Too big to be domesticated. 2ft or more in hight and 5ft or more in length. I really hope to get a picture. I know no one believes me.

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    1. I live in Southaven, MS. My cousin used to live off Old Starlanding road in Nezbit. She said in the wood around where she lives there had been airings of a large black cat and the game wardens said it's too big for their cages. Her father-in-law lives in Olive Branch and swears he had seen the same cat when he was on a early morning jog in the trees. One night I was heading through Olive Branch at 10pm. I was going west on Church Road towards Southaven and saw a silhouette in a distance of a large cat with a long cat tail run across the road. This definitely was a cat because of the tail. My cousin said she was told panthers travel in a 50 mile radius making it very possible this was the same cat. There may be more though.

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  7. My understanding is jaguarundi were brought to Florida around ocala in the mid 1900's, 30 to 50 were released and could have spread to Ms. I have seen one large black panther and one possible jaguarundi here in the Ms delta. No mistaking what I saw.

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  8. I saw one once west of a town called Sulphur, in Louisiana. Tried to take a pic but it was late eve. And couldn't be seen or enhanced digitally. I always go back at dusk to this spot to try and sight again.

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  9. I live on what is called the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. Much of my life (62 now) I have lived in fairly rural areas on farms and I have seen three of these animals in my life. When I was about six years old and lived on a farm we had a chicken coop and one night my father heard a lot of noise out there as there were various animals such as foxes and coons and even possums that would try to get at the chickens and or their eggs. My father went out there with his shotgun and a light and saw an animal run away and chased after it and it went up into a tree and he shot it and brought it back to the house. It still has some feathers and some of the actual chicken meat in its mouth. We had never seen any sort of cat like that before, but now that I have seen a Jaguarundi, that is what it was. Another time I was hunting in an area with some high grass and shot a dove at a pretty good distance. I went over to find it and I could hear it sort of flapping around as I approached. The grass was maybe two to two and a half feet high and as I approached the bird I heard something run away through the grass and, thinking it was a rabbit, I shot at the noise and hit one of these cats which flopped around a good bit before it died. I would not have shot it if I knew it was a cat. The other one, I never got that close to, as I saw it on side of the road as I drove by. We would always hear about people saying that they saw a black panther and I never thought that is what these were, but I looked into it and when I first saw a photo of a Jaguarundi, I knew immediately that that is what I had seen.

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  10. On Sunday Aug.23, while at Wintergreen resort in Wintergreen, VA, I saw a small, reddish-brown cat run across the road about 2:30 in the afternoon. It was slender, noticeably larger than a house cat, with a relatively smaller head, and a long tail.
    It was much more slender than a lynx, with solid coloring, and absent the distinct, tufted ears
    I researched wild cats of North America, and was surprised to come across the Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi). I know without a doubt, that this is the cat I saw.

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  11. Almost positive I saw one of these or some other large cat run across I20 about 50 miles east of Jackson tonight around 9:00. Definitely feline, fast as heck, about 6 feet long. About 20 yards in front of my car as I was heading West. As soon as I got home I started googling to figure out what it might be, which led me here.

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  12. the date now is Feb 2017. last spring my wife and I saw something run across the eastern most part of hwy 90 in Louisiana just before entering into Mississippi. I had never heard of a Jaquarundi. When I got home and researched the animal we saw, I am convinced this is what it was, I contacted the dept of Wildlife and reported the sighting and the gentleman was very receptive of what I was sharing with him. I even got a later return call from him but things had changed, he had discussed my sighting with other agents and they decided what I saw was an otter. I am in my 60's and have lived in south Louisiana all my life, I have hunted fished trapped camped since I was eleven years old, they can not convince me I saw an otter. I have been waiting to hear of other sightings in the area to help prove the existence of the Jaquarundi in these parts even if it might be just passing through. Franklin Kemp

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  13. saw one last Fall just north of Lake George Wildlife MGMT Area in Yazoo County MS. It was solid black. Got an excellent view of it as it emerged form a ditch and walked across a road into heavy wooded CRP acreage. Just a beautiful creature. I was on a tractor about 75 yards away headed right towards this animal but it did not seem to be alarmed or in any hurry to avoid me.

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  14. On 10-06-2017 on old Spanish trail Rd just east of Fountianbleau RD by the Ocean Springs Airport. As I was driving home from a football game I just happen to see something moving in the darkness in the ditch there was a massive cat/black panther. I've always heard of puma's or panthers in the area from Theodore Al all the way to Hancock County but this is the first time I've seen one walking in the wild. This animal wasn't frightened by my vehicle slowing down as I got closer to it. I tried to take a photo of it and the flash from my phone caused it to jump straight back into the woods which is a very heavily pined forest area. I called my wife and told her she wasn't going to believe me and sure enough today on the news we see reports of black panther in Hernando MS and Pike county. My friend that lives in Theodore reported to AL wildlife that he had one on his property. They are here in the area. I just hope people don't start hunting them.

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