Black panther spotted in west end of town

Is it an April Fool’s joke in June, or is there a black panther roaming around the west end of town?
People claim to have seen the cat near the gravel pit owned by George Armstrong Co. Ltd. And now, a Lyndy Place resident said she caught it on videotape three weeks ago.
The resident (who asked not to be identified) shot the video from her deck after spotting the black cat on a hill behind her home.
“It sat there on the other side of the fence for quite a while and then swatted at a bird,” she noted. “Then it got up and walked off.
“It’s still in the [area] because I’ve heard other people have seen it,” she added.
The woman, who is married with children, took the videotape to the local Ministry of Natural Resources office, where area biologists Darryl McLeod and John Van den Broeck viewed it.
“It appears to be a black panther but other than the video, we haven’t heard of anybody else [seeing] it,” McLeod confirmed Monday.
He speculated the animal might have been a domestic pet which had accidentally escaped but also noted the MNR had no information on a possible owner.
“We haven’t heard of one escaping or of somebody losing one,” McLeod said.
If the black panther was a pet at one time within the municipality of Fort Frances, possession of it would have been illegal. Schedule ‘A’ of Bylaw No. 17/90 prohibits the keeping of all “felids,” except the domestic cat.
At least three other homeowners living near the gravel pit have caught a glimpse of the large feline, with the most recent sighting just last week.
“Ya, I saw it [and] it looked to be a good-sized black cat,” said Glenn Carmody, who lives in the area. He also saw its tracks in the pit.
And a Kirsti Place resident, who also asked not to be identified, said she saw the cat standing on Pit Road No. 1 as she was on her way to work early last week.
“At first I thought it was a huge dog but as I got closer, I realized it was not really a dog,” she noted. “It just stood there and stared at me [and] all the way to work I kept saying to myself ‘What was that thing?’”
But “Plum” Byrnes, a bylaw enforcement officer with the town, said only one call had been received about a sighting.
Byrnes said the lone person to contact the town about the cat so far had been the woman who took the video, and added no action had been taken by the town to investigate the matter.
“If other people would phone and tell us [what they saw], we would try to help as much as we could,” she said.
Meanwhile, it’s quite possible the black panther sighted locally is the same one seen by Stewart Road resident Sue Freeman near her home last year–and by the Boyd Anderson family, who live on Highway 602 just west of the Gerber farm, some seven years ago.
“My son and my husband saw it in 1992. They were outside pouring cement pads and it was about 50-100 feet from them,” Audrey Anderson said yesterday.
“They said it was jet-black and looked like a black panther you would see at the zoo,” she noted.