December 01, 2011 at 11:34am
The Florida panther (Puma concolor coryi) is considered of historical occurrence in Louisiana. The historic range included eastern Texas or western Louisiana and the east lower Mississippi River Valley through the southeastern states (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, and parts of Tennessee and South Carolina). Even though numerous sighting reports continue to surface annually throughout its historic range, it is unlikely that viable populations of the Florida panther presently occur outside Florida. Each year the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program (LNHP) receives calls reporting puma sightings, most of these reports remain unconfirmed because of the lack of evidence.
If you believe you saw a cougar, check for the following:
•Tracks (below you will find drawings of tracks of cougars and other carnivore species that will help you to identify cougar's tracks). If possible, take a picture and/or make a cast of the track, and/or draw the track on a hard clear plastic with a permanent marker.
•Scats (collect the scats and keep them in a clean plastic bag)
•And remember that black panthers are not native to North America.
For more information on cougars, go to the Eastern Cougar Network website.
The mountain lion, cougar, panther or puma are names that all refer to the same animal. Their color ranges from lighter tan to brownish grey. The only species of big cats that occur as black are the jaguar and leopard. Jaguars are native to South America and leopards are native to Africa. Both species can occur as spotted or black, although in both cases the spotted variety is much more common. Although LDWF receives numerous calls about black panthers, there has never been a documented case of a black cougar anywhere in North America.
The vast majority of these reports received by LDWF cannot be verified due to the very nature of a sighting. Many of the calls are determined to be cases of mistaken identity, with dog tracks making up the majority of the evidence submitted by those reporting cougar sightings. Other animals commonly mistaken for cougars are bobcats and house cats, usually seen from a distance or in varying shades of light.
The significant lack of physical evidence indicates that Louisiana does not have an established, breeding population of cougars. In states that have verified small populations of cougars, physical evidence can readily be found in the form of tracks, cached deer kills, scat and road kills.
The recent sightingsof cougars in Louisiana are believed to be young animals dispersing from existing populations. An expanding population in Texas can produce dispersing individual cougars that move into suitable habitat in Louisiana. Young males are known to disperse from their birthplace and travel hundreds of miles seeking their own territories