The Department of Fisheries and Land Resources says there is no evidence confirming the presence of a panther in the Deer Lake area.
The department’s wildlife division confirmed it did receive a report Monday of a black panther being seen by local residents in the Glide Brook Road area.
On Wednesday, the Town of Deer Lake posted a warning on its website, advising people of the possible sighting and urging people to be cautious.
Wildlife officials said Thursday they have spoken with the resident who reported the sighting and were provided with a description of the animal. While there is no evidence of such an animal in the area, conservation officers will be monitoring the area in the coming weeks as a precaution.
As of deadline Thursday, The Western Star was unsuccessful in contacting the people who claimed to have seen the large cat.
The department said it has received similar reports of panther-like wildlife from various locations throughout the province in the past few years. Investigations into these reports have not confirmed the presence of a panther, as evidence such as hair samples collected during these investigations indicated some of the animals in question were lynx or domestic cats.
Residents are encouraged to report any unusual wildlife sightings to the wildlife division at 637-2025.
With the large presence of big game hunters in the woods during the fall, The Western Star asked what the regulations are should someone with a firearm encounter a panther or cougar in the woods of Newfoundland.
In an emailed response, the department stated that this question has been posed in the past with regards to cougars and raccoons — species that are not known to inhabit the island. In accordance with Section 89 of the province’s wildlife regulations, there is no open season for any wildlife species not named in the province’s annual hunting or trapping orders.