Alabama cougars were real once, but today wildlife officials say they haven’t seen any verified proof of them in decades.
Recently, a game trail cam near Hazel Green High School in Madison County, Alabama, caught a big cat walking into the woods. Then, many on social media became excited, thinking it showed an Alabama cougar. Other names for the big cat include mountain lion, ghost cats, puma, panther, deer cat, mountain devil, or mountain screamer.
Below you can see the image, and yes, it does appear similar to a mountain lion. However, the only problem is that the last confirmed sighting of Alabama cougars happened 65 years ago. In 1956, someone killed a cougar in Tuscaloosa County.
Earlier in 1948, a farmer reportedly shot a 109-pound Alabama cougar in St. Clair County. Below, you can see a newspaper clipping of the incident.
Alabama Cougars, Black Panthers, and Big Foot
Aside from the Florida panther, the only cougars left live in pockets around the Rocky Mountains. For example, we recently shared a story about a Mountain Lion seen in Arizona near the mountains. Even then, sightings are extremely rare. As intelligent animals, these big cats are reclusive and would much rather hide from view. Thus, you may be seen, but it’s highly unlikely that you will ever spot a mountain lion.
Nevertheless, like Big Foot, people keep seeing the Alabama cougar and even cats they think are black panthers. Regardless, there has never been a documented case of a black mountain lion. While popular in movies and as sports team mascots, Black panthers aren’t a real species. On the other hand, melanistic black jaguars live in Central and South America.
Every week, Alabama wildlife officials get questions about big cats in the state. According to an Al.com poll, almost half of the readers believed they had seen an Alabama cougar in the wild.
Alabama Cougars or Something Else?
After wildlife biologists saw the cat in question, they determined it was a bobcat. Today, bobcats remain common throughout Alabama.
According to Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division Conservation Outreach Coordinator Marianne Hudson, photos can often be misleading. So, a cat may appear larger than it is. Often, feral cats can appear large depending on the lighting and perspective of the photo.
“People are quite often used to seeing things that are certain size in a certain shape from a certain distance which gives them a perspective and when your perspective is skewed you can easily give an illusion that the animals larger or smaller than other than it actually is,” Hudson said.
Hudson invited anyone with evidence to contact Alabama Wildlife officials, such as photos, tracks, or even droppings.
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A Similar Photo From Last Year
Last year, Alabama state wildlife state biologists examined another photo that captured attention on social media. A property owner in the southern part of the state took the picture, and it does look very much like an Alabama cougar. However, in actuality, it’s a house cat, reported officials on Facebook.
To offer proof, a man stands in the same spot with a dog.
“Alas, here you see one of our biologists confirming that this feline was just like all the rest.
IT’ᔕ ᗩ ᕼOᑌᔕEᑕᗩT.”
Nevertheless, officials say they don’t think any amount of evidence will change the widespread belief that Alabama cougars are lurking. However, what people are probably seeing are bobcats and other smaller animals.
“Most pictures we are sent are domestic cats or bobcats, and others are foxes, coyotes, domestic dogs, and even raccoon,” the Facebook statement read.
Strangely, some conspiracy theorists claim wildlife experts are keeping the animals a secret. However, the experts say they would be eager to see real evidence of Alabama cougars themselves. Maybe one day, if people learn to protect and cherish wild areas and wildlife, leaving room for natural predators, mountain lions could have a chance to return.