Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Plaquemines searching for large black cat

Jay Vise
31 January 2011

Officials in Plaquemines Parish are warning residents to be on the lookout for a large black undomesticated cat seen near the East Bank community of Phoenix. Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser says the Sheriff's Office and officers from Wildlife & Fisheries are currently working to capture the cat.

Parish spokesman Kurt Fromherz says officials think the animal is a non-native species, but says it's hard to confirm the species of cat while the feline is still on the loose.

Nungesser says the cat may be aggressive and people are recommended to avoid it, keep pets indoors, and call 911 if you see it.

We asked WWL Outdoor Show host Don Dubuc if the big feline could be a black panther or mountain lion. Dubuc says that's unlikely.

"There has never been a confirmed sighting of a panther or mountain lion in southeast Louisiana," Don told us.

"What we're talking about here is the cougar, puma, mountain lion, panther, it's got a lot of names, but it's the same animal," Dubuc said. "Its range is mostly out in the western part of the United States. We finally got some documented proof of some up in northern Louisiana, but there's no reason to believe that they can't exist in the Atchafalaya. However, this is a possibility that a large, wild cat could be roaming in Plaquemines Parish... if it were, it would most probably be a leopard. Leopards come in black phases, instead of spots, that is what is truly a 'black panther,' is in the leopard family. We do not have those indigenous to southeast Louisiana."

However, Dubuc says it's not out of the realm of possibility that such a large cat escaped from captivity aboard one of the many ships passing up and down the river, or was released from a local resident's cage.

(Submitted by Chad Arment)

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