People Still Think They’re Seeing Black Panthers in Illinois
This is almost becoming as common as Bigfoot sightings. Over the years, many have claimed they've seen black panthers in Illinois. Is it true? There's a complicated answer to that question.
If you think I'm making this up, check out a story done by The Belleville News-Democrat a few years ago. They reported not one, but several legitimate black panther sightings in Illinois over the years. There was one in the 1980's and another in the 1990's and a couple as recent as 2012 and 2018.
Is it possible to see a black panther in our part of America? Possible, yes. Likely? Absolutely not.
The Wildlife Whisperer mentions that most if not all "black panther" sightings are misidentifications. They also mention that even Oklahoma claims to have black panthers. Misery loves company. The most likely culprit in Illinois or Missouri for that matter is a cougar/mountain lion. While not common, it's not unheard of to hear of a mountain lion present in remote wooded areas. There was a mountain lion in Illinois reported by KSDK last summer.
Some of these exotic cat sightings have become the modern day Bigfoot. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources even has a page dedicated to campfire stories about wild cats in the state.
What's the point? No need to hide the children or pets next time you have a neighbor claim they saw a black panther. It's likely either someone's imagination or something much less harmless crawling between the trees.