Our recent 'dead panther' investigation gets another plug, this time from a rival local paper, the Hawkesbury Gazette, which also plugs a recent sighting in the area. To see footage of the 'dead panther' skull (and hear a rather dispirited Mike Williams commentary on yet another false alarm) go here. As you can see from the picture above, our initial excitement wasn't entirely unwarranted - it did look like a BIG cat!
A false alarm on panther find
Despite a Hills paper declaring panther remains were found at a South Maroota property, the experts have said it was only a large feral cat.The owner of the property said his three dogs had brought the mauled carcass to him on Sunday, November 28.
He buried the carcass due to the stink and to stop the dogs mauling it even further.
Mike Williams, co-author of Australian Big Cats: An Unnatural History of Panthers was contacted about the find and drove from west of Lithgow to examine whether the carcass was really a “panther”.
He said he told the Hills paper it was a “large Felis cattus”, the species name of a domestic cat but it was reported in the paper as a “big fearless cat”.
“I burnt rubber to get down there and used a shovel to dig it up,”
Mr Williams said.
“I would’ve moved about a tonne of earth.
“I finally found it, and it was rotten and liquefied.
“I saw the remains and I saw the skull, and I’ve gone ‘you’re joking’.
“There are panthers out there, but this was not one of them!
“However it was a very large feral cat, and they are interesting to me as well.”
Grose Vale panther expert Chris Coffey said if it had been a panther “it would’ve made my Christmas”!
“I would’ve paid for the DNA testing myself,” she said.
Mrs Coffey said the incident was typical of a common misunderstanding that people made about the panther.
“They’ve got to understand the enormity of the animal,” she said.
“It would be at least the size of a rottweiler, a German shepherd or a labrador.”
Mrs Coffey said there were several physical differences between a big cat and a feral cat.
She said a panther would be at least a metre in length, 40-50cm tall at the shoulder, have a tail that is two thirds as long as the body, have rounded ears where feral cats have pointed ears, and have its ears on the side of its skull. Feral cats have ears on top of their skulls.
Mrs Coffey said the last Hawkesbury sighting of a panther had been at Cabbage Tree Creek two weeks ago.