Black Panthers in Ohio and Kentucky

Adrianne, Ohio Bigfoot Research Manager 

There have recently been multiple sightings of a large black cat in Ohio, more specifically in Montgomery County north of Dayton. These large black cats are commonly called black panthers and the media refers to them has black leopards. Black Leopards are native to Africa, Asia, India, and China.

The most recent report was made by a resident of Harrison Township in Montgomery County. He reported that he was looking out his window and noticed a large cat-like animal walking across his yard. He was quoted by the Dayton Daily News as saying “It was like stalking, the way it was walking. He was stalking real cautious. Real aware of everything around him.” The witness estimated that the cat weighed between 160 to 200 lbs.

An earlier sighting in the same area reported spotting one near the Stillwater River also in Montgomery County. According to the Montgomery County Sheriff the leopard has been spotted 5 or 6 times in the last 15 months. No reports have been made of a missing pet leopard.

Ohio does not regulate private ownership of dangerous wild animals. It is not uncommon for wild animals to be sold as pets. (Update: Since this article has been written, Ohio does regulate ownership of these types of animals. This does not mean that neighboring states do and that animals still aren't bought and sold illegally.) Usually they are sold as babies when they are all cute and adorable. When the animal reaches maturity the owners can no longer control them and they often escape or are turned loose.

These recent sightings in Dayton, Ohio are nothing new. For decades there have been numerous reports of large black cats in both Ohio and Kentucky and actually throughout the eastern United States.

I, myself, had my own sighting in Kentucky when I was a teen camping with my family. We have a private family campground in Bath County, Kentucky. This camp was located on my grandparents’ property very near the Daniel Boone National Forest.

A group of us were standing near a car at the edge of the camping area. There was a huge bonfire going in the camp and it lit up the field below the camp all the way across to the tree line. While we were standing around I caught site of something running along the tree line across the field. It was very long and black and was running at an incredibly fast speed. I pointed it out to my brother and we saw it run into the tree line. My brother reached into his car and grabbed his spotlight and shined it on the spot we saw it enter the woods. A large tree in the tree line was rapidly shaking.

The next morning we decided to go check out the tree and the area where we saw it enter. The tree had huge claw marks around 5 or 6 feet up the trunk like it was used as a scratching post. The ground was hard and covered in leaf litter so there were no tracks found. There were also other strange things that happened that same night. My brother decided to sleep in his car that night instead of his tent and in the morning his tent had been torn to shreds. Whether or not it was related to the panther we do not know.

There were all kinds of sighting in that area around that same time. I remember my Grandpa telling me that the government had released 16 black panthers in the Daniel Boone National forest to kill out the diseased deer. Where he got his information from and whether it is true or not, I do not know.