Does a panther prowl on Pine Mountain?
IS there a black panther on the loose in Pine Mountain?
That question remains unsolved, but several sightings of a giant black cat in the aftermath of recent stock losses had the QT on the case this week.
There have been reported sightings in Chuwar and Pine Mountain in recent years.
The Emmaville panther is the most famous case in Australia of such a sighting with the creature believed to have roamed the northern NSW area after escaping from a circus.
The QT had been told that a giant black panther-like creature had been seen by Pine Mountain resident Raylene and her young daughter so we went to investigate.
Raylene picks up the story.
"It was huge and black. It was as long as the car is wide and it had orange eyes," she recalled.
"It was just before dark and my daughter saw it with me when we were coming home. It jumped out of the bushes, so we startled it as much as us being frightened by it.
"I called it a panther right from then...but I haven't seen it since. It stood very high and had a long tail.
"I came home and told my dad and he went up the mountain that night and couldn't find anything.
"There was a pony farm nearby and they'd had two horses killed. That's what sparked the idea that it was a feral cat.
"We found the footprints in the mud and took multiples cast of them. They were definitely of a cat...and they were very big paw prints.
"I googled it and learned there had been one at Marburg and another that had escaped from a circus."
The casts of the paw prints have since broken. Raylene's daughter had nightmares after seeing the creature and kept her windows shut at night after the sighting.
Big cat sightings researcher Paul Clacher has a website where people have reported their experiences.
In 2009 a Chuwar resident, Andy, reported seeing "an enormous black cat in the paddock next door as I stood on my back deck".
"I then went to get the video camera but the cat was gone by the time I returned," he said.
"When I first saw it, it was approx 25m to 30m away from me and I had a great view of it as is slinked down the paddock towards some old animal shelters.
"I estimate the cat was about 1.5m long excluding its equally long tail, and probably stood 700 to 800mm tall. I have seen some big feral cats in my time but this was off the Richter scale. It was no feral cat."
Cr David Pahlke was alerted to the possibility of a black panther on the prowl in the area after receiving calls from local residents.
"Rumours of the black panther started circulating again and were mentioned to our council officers after people were losing stock a month or two back," he said.
"Wild cats can grow three times their normal size. I believe (Raylene) saw something big and black. She saw it with her own eyes and so did her daughter.
"There have been reported sightings of tigers, panthers and circus animals all over Australia.
"Our society is full of urban myths and they are part of our social fabric. It is like the yeti, the yowie and the Tasmanian tiger that no-one can find."
You can now add the Pine Mountain panther to the list.