THE WESTERN STAR
STEPHENVILLE, N.L. — With no tangible proof, Charlie White’s first inclination was not to talk about what he had just seen.
Only because his friend Wayne Alexander was in the vehicle and had also seen a large, black, cougar-like cat cross the Hansen Highway in front of them, he decided to go public.
White is glad he did.
Since that sighting, which happened Sept. 10 at around 6 p.m., he has learned of about 20 other alleged sightings of black and tan cougar-like cats in the area.
“Most of those people felt it was taboo to talk about,” he said.
He posted a YouTube video on Facebook, featuring himself and Alexander talking about their experience at the location of their sighting.
He soon had more people contacting him to share their sightings of large cats.
He said one instance was within 24 hours of their experience. He said a young boy told his grandfather a large black cat was outside their home. White was told the grandfather went to the window and caught a glimpse of the animal going into the woods.
White is concerned the cat was seen about 600 meters northeast of Ned’s Pond walking trail.
“I’m not trying to frighten people walking on that trail, but people should be aware there is something out there,” he said.
White has heard of large cat sightings dating back to 1969, north at Logger’s School Road to south in Bay St. George South.
He described the cat as having a rope-like tail about 30 inches long and a body — excluding the head and neck — that was about the same length.
White is hoping someone will get a good clear picture of one of these cats to provide proof.
To him, it’s a cougar, despite being all black. He thinks, if they’ve been around since 1969, those cats might have developed a trait or gene that turned them black to adjust to the northern climate.
A request was made to the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources for an interview on the topic but the department said no one was available.
In an emailed statement, the department confirmed it received four reports related to the possible sighting of a large black cat-like creature from various locations along the west coast since June.
Since 1960 there have been around 100 reports of possible large cat-like wildlife sightings in various locations throughout the province.
Investigations have never confirmed the presence of a large cat. No evidence of animal tracks consistent with a large feline type animal and no scat samples were found.
However, there has been evidence including photographs and hair samples collected during investigations that suggest some of the animals in question were lynx or domestic cats.
In the meantime, residents are encouraged to report any unusual wildlife sightings to their local Forestry and Wildlife district office.
- To check out Charlie White’s video, visit his Facebook page and click on Cougar Sighting, Stephenville NL.