Tennesseans report Black Panther sightings; former Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Exec Dir George Smith joins Coyote vs Deer debate; South Dakota pols seek federal funding for aerial Coyote hunting program; Hawaii reports several new suspected cases of Dengue Fever; and Rabies reports from Georgia, Missouri, and Texas.

National Animal Control Officer Appreciation Week!

April 10th through April 16th, 2011

Thank you!

 Tennessee 04/12/11 tennessean.com: by Josh Arntz – Excerpts – “Residents along Lock Hollow and Lecomte roads, in the hilly and heavily-wooded southwestern corner of the county, have reported hearing a wild cat scream or have seen a black panther with a very long tail. Samford Shirk, a retired law enforcement forensics specialist, saw a black panther with a long, swooping tail cross his property in September. The cat stalked into a recently cleared field about 500 feet in front of Shirk’s home.”

“ ‘Panther’ and ‘cougar’ are interchangeable names for the mountain lion or eastern cougar, of the Puma subfamily. There have been no documented cases of mountain lions or cougars in states east of Missouri for a very long time, with the exception of the Florida Panther in southern Florida. Tennessee is home to bobcats, but Richard Kirk, with Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, explained that the recently-declared-extinct eastern cougar hasn’t been documented in the state for over a century.”

“Kirk added that TWRA hasn’t introduced a black panther into Tennessee’s wild, and no cougars have been documented as road kill on any Tennessee road. Dogs and coyotes are the likely suspects for missing or killed pets. It’s conceivable that bobcats live in Dickson County, but Kirk explained they are very secretive and seldom seen.” (For complete article go to http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110412/DICKSON01/110412080/-1/NEWS01/Panther-sightings-reported-southwest-Dickson-County )

Maine 04/13/11 onlinesentinel.com: by George Smith – A friend called the

Taylor Mitchell

other day to tell me his dog had been killed by coyotes, right in his yard. You have probably leaped to the conclusion that he lives in northern Maine. No. He lives on the ocean in Cumberland. Now that they’ve eaten most of the deer in northern Maine, coyotes are moving south in search of food.  People ask me if they should worry about their children. The only sensible answer is yes, of course. Do a Google search for “coyote attacks on children” and prepare to be shocked. Here’s a typical report: A mom rescues her 2-year-old daughter while a coyote is dragging her from their California yard — the third incident of coyotes threatening small children in five days. And 19-year-old singer Taylor Mitchell was killed by coyotes while she was jogging in Cape Breton Highlands National Park in 2009.

Wildlife biologist Gordon Batchelle in New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, reported that coyotes are adapting to our human environment with its abundant food and no threats. National Geographic reported that University of California wildlife specialist Robert Timm has documented about 160 coyote attacks and dangerous incidents over the past 30 years in California alone. “There is an increasing problem with coyotes losing their fear of humans and becoming aggressive,” said Timm.

National Geographic also presented a report from Cornell University wildlife biologist Paul Curtis, who described a progression of behavior by coyotes. First they are increasingly seen in daylight hours. Then pets begin vanishing from yards or are snatched off leashes. “That’s the last stage before a human attack,” said Curtis. “And we’re at that stage in New York now.” While these attacks are rare, they can’t be ignored or dismissed. In Maine, coyotes are feasting on sheep, dogs and cats.

My research found this suggestion: If “a coyote attacks you or someone near you, yell at the coyote to make it back off. Don’t run away since a coyote can outrun you — unless you can run faster than 30 mph!” Not very comforting. Yet the possibility that sportsmen might get serious about reducing Maine’s coyote population remains controversial. The new Maine Game Plan for Deer, created by the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, calls for a significant program to reduce coyote predation on deer. The agency’s program calls for “targeted and focused coyote hunting” to encourage hunting where coyotes threaten deer in their wintering areas in eastern, northern and western Maine. The Legislature may go further, adding trappers to the program and even extending coyote controls statewide. Because, you see, coyotes like dogs as much as deer, and they are causing problems from Caribou to Cumberland, Fort Kent to Fryeburg.

Animal rights groups oppose this effort, preferring their imagined world of “nature at peace.” They don’t dwell on the image of a deer, dragged down and eaten alive by coyotes. Some wildlife biologists at the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife don’t support coyote controls, either. Rich Bard, who works in Washington County, after an encounter with a coyote, wrote recently in his blog: “Funny, killing this handsome creature was the last thing on my mind. I don’t have a problem with hunting, especially for food, but a lust for blood and hatred of an entire species just makes no sense to me.” It will be Bard’s job to implement his agency’s new coyote control program. I don’t suppose he’ll have much enthusiasm for it.

For years, sportsmen and some members of DIF&W’s wildlife staff have been shouting at each other about coyotes, while the deer herd disappeared. “It’s coyotes,” shouted sportsmen. “No, it’s habitat,” wildlife biologists shouted back. Turns out, it’s both. Targeting coyotes near deer wintering areas where they do the most damage is sensible — and essential if we want deer to survive Maine’s tough winters. Targeting coyotes where they are eating dogs and cats: well, that’s going to be up to you. Sportsmen will be there for you, if you want us to be. Or maybe you can just yell at the coyotes when they show up in your yard. Just don’t try to outrun them.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or georgesmith maine@gmail.com. Read more of Smith’s writings at http://www.georgesmithmaine.com.

South Dakota 04/12/11 rapidcityjournal.com: by Kevin Woster: Sen. Tim

US Sen. Tim Johnson, (D) SD

Johnson joined the war on coyotes Monday, urging U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to restore more than $500,000 in federal funds for killing the predators from the air. Johnson, D-S.D., lamented the loss of congressional earmarks, which Johnson supports and Republicans have slammed as part of the federal budget mess. A two-year moratorium on congressional earmarks, where money is directed to specific programs, is a mistake now showing itself in sheep and cattle country in lost funding for aerial hunting, Johnson said. “I’ve routinely secured funding for this program, which combines with efforts at the state level, to protect producers from livestock damage,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. But because of the ban on earmarks in this budget cycle, “I was prevented from securing funds dedicated solely to continuing this program in South Dakota,” he said.

Without earmarks, key budget decisions are made in federal agencies. And in this case, budget priorities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture threaten to cost the coyote war in South Dakota its federal air support. That worries Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, who sought help from Vilsack last Friday. The two South Dakota Republicans sent a letter to the secretary urging him to see to it that the funding for aerial hunting was restored. The loss of funding is particularly unfair because programs in some contiguous states have been funded, they said. “We find this disparate treatment unfortunate and unacceptable and are respectfully requesting an immediate review and that funding be made available at a commensurate level among all applicable states,” they said in the letter.

Aerial hunting feral hogs

That doesn’t mean they lament the earmark ban. Thune has asked for and received many earmarks in the past, but he supported the earmark moratorium. Andi Fouberg, Thune’s communications director, said a memorandum of understanding – often referred to as MOU — between USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, or APHIS, wildlife services program and the South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department was supposed to solidify the predator-control program and avoid ups and downs tied to earmarks. Thune was concerned when it became clear that USDA was treating South Dakota differently than some other states with similar agreements, Fouberg said. “This issue wasn’t created due to the earmark moratorium. It was created as a result of APHIS/USDA arbitrarily backing out of an MOU that was established with the state of South Dakota,” she said.

Noem communications director Josh Shields said nothing about the aerial hunting issue changed Noem’s position on earmarks. “Rep. Noem stands by her decision to ban earmarks because too many members of Congress were using the earmark process for wasteful spending,” Shields said. “She will continue fighting for South Dakota’s priorities through the regular legislative process.”

Hawaii 04/13/11 mauinews.com: Three new cases of dengue fever are suspected in Hana, along with a possible case in Haliimaile and an additional two or three Upcountry, according to health officials. Maui District Health Officer Dr. Lorrin Pang also said at least one of two cases previously suspected in Keanae has been confirmed by a laboratory in Hawaii, although he was still waiting for official verification from a Center for Disease Control lab in Puerto Rico. Residents should take steps to protect themselves by clearing standing water and brush from their yards, and using mosquito repellent when going outside, he said. Pang also said anyone with symptoms of dengue — including fever, headache, sunburn-like rash, and aching muscles or joints — should call a health care professional so they can be tested for the illness. Tracking active cases will help public health officials target their efforts to contain the spread of the illness, he said. A first infection with dengue fever typically results in painful symptoms for about five days. However, if a person who previously had dengue later contracts a different strain of the disease, they are at much higher risk of serious complications.

Georgia 04/12/11 gwinnettdailypost.com: by Josh Green – Officials have issued Gwinnett’s third rabies alert of 2011 after an infected raccoon turned up in Braselton, but an animal control leader says the threat is no greater than in other years. The raccoon, found April 4 on Northern Oak Drive, tested positive for rabies at a state laboratory, prompting the most recent alert. Similar warnings were sounded when a rabid cat turned up in February near Buford Highway in Suwanee; the second case involved a bat with rabies in Lawrenceville in March. Lt. Mary Lou Respess, Gwinnett Animal Shelter manager, said the heightened rabies awareness has resulted from alerts her agency now issues via Gwinnett County’s communication system. “I don’t believe that there are more rabid animals, merely a better system for alerting the public,” Respess said. Officials advise anyone who may have had contact with the raccoon — or any stray animals — to call the Gwinnett County Animal Welfare and Enforcement Bite Office at 770-339-3200, ext. 5576.

Missouri 04/12/11 kansascity.com: Animal control officials in Blue Springs are looking for the owner of a large Rottweiler involved in a bite incident last week. The officials said they need to locate the animal’s owner to confirm rabies vaccination. The incident occurred at about 3 p.m. April 4 in the 200 block of S.E. Moreland School Road. The dog was being walked by its apparent owner, described as a blonde 5-foot-6 white female in her 40s. Animal control officials are urging the dog’s owner to come forward to prevent the victim from having to go through rabies post-exposure vaccination treatment. Anyone with information is being asked to contact the Blue Springs animal control department at 816-228-0149.

Texas 04/12/11 burnetbulletin.com: For the third time in two months, the

Spotted skunk

Burnet Police Department has received confirmation from the Texas Department of Zoonosis that a skunk was found to be infected with rabies in the City of Burnet. Burnet Police were called to a residence on Johnson Street on Friday regarding a skunk. They took custody of the animal and sent it to the state for testing, which resulted in a positive result for rabies. Two other skunks were also found to have recently, the first on March 1 and the second on April 4., both on the northwest side of Burnet. The Burnet Animal Control Officer, Kim Wilson, warns the public that anyone seeing an animal acting strangely, whether that animal is a wild animal or a pet, should immediately contact the Animal Control Officer (ACO) at 512.756.8080, the Burnet Police Department at 512.756.6404, or in the event of an aggressive animal, they should call 911.


8 responses to “Tennesseans report Black Panther sightings; former Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine Exec Dir George Smith joins Coyote vs Deer debate; South Dakota pols seek federal funding for aerial Coyote hunting program; Hawaii reports several new suspected cases of Dengue Fever; and Rabies reports from Georgia, Missouri, and Texas.

  1. Buddy LaJuett

    June 10, 2011. Just left sister-in-law’s house in the six-mile community where 2 panthers have been sighted by us and many of the neighbors over the past week. Yes I know, according to TWRA, panthers do not exist in this area and we were informed that it is illegal to shoot a panther. I don’t care about legal or not, these cats were within less than 50 feet of the house and the yard where the children play. Besides, if they don’t exist then how can anyone shoot something that isn’t there? Description: Black, about 30 inches tall with long tail (about 3 foot long), body about 5 foot long. At night the eyes appear to glow yellow in the light of a flashlight. One was actually seen by my wife during day light hours, just about dusk. and it was only about 50 foot away. We are accustomed to encountering a black bear now and then, had one in a tree in the yard last year so we are not frightened city folk and our eyes aren’t playing tricks. These cats DO EXIST!

  2. I’ve seen a black panther twice once in Shady Valley around nine in the mourning walking across the fields in plain site about a hundred yards from grandmothers home. My mother spotted it and said is that a black panther? I looked at the big cat thru scope of rifle. WE had just come out of the woods from deer hunting. The second time it was near dusk in my back yard in sullivan county near the weir dam. I had just walked out on my porch to feed cat. I saw the cat at the same time he saw me not a hundred feet from me he quickly moved to th treeline about 20 feet from were he was in the open. I’m staring at him and wandering if I should try to get to the shot gun. He stops just in the treeline but still visible to me. He was awesome to look at mybe 150 pounds 7-8 foot long. Just the other day a friend was telling about seeing one down near friendship boatdock. People sure get a look of disbelief if you tell them about it.

  3. Gary Griffiths

    We are staying at a cabin in the Smokie Mountains & we have seen a black panther twice yesterday & I even got a picture of him with my digital camera. The second time we saw him he was right by our cabin & we stepped out on the deck & he ran off.

  4. Buddy LaJuett

    As for no panthers (cougars, pumas) living east of the Missippi, I believe I read an article in this blog sometime in late summer or early fall of last year about a cougar that had been hit and killed on a road in Connecticut. Anyone know how to find that article?

  5. Pingback: Tennessee panther | Imagestore

  6. I have two confirmed sighting of a black panther running in dupo , Illinois ..5miles southeast of mississippi river..

  7. jerry mancell

    I have seen black panthers in dyer county,near mossiland twra.And ernice rice.twra.They cross Great river road,and midway and Bradley roads.They travel the obion river and even cross the river to Lauderdale county.to get to Anderson tully game reserve.at the end of hwy.88.Ed Jones boat ramp.in chicasaw hunting area.I have hunted and fished for 54 years.in these counties.I was 8 years when I saw the first big cat.when I was rabbit hunting behind MR.Tom Wess Reaves.house on the bank of the obion river in greens woods.just off of gumflat road.I have seen 1 on wesslees chapel road.in weakley county.Between Dresden and Palmersville off of hwy 89.Weakley county has several brown cougars.around Garret lake.and the other twra’s.

  8. I just saw a black panther here in Portland Tennessee, on parker rd. It’s a large cat and was fat, and look to be at least 6 feet, and well over 100 lbs. It saw me then crouched while we stared at each other. It was behind our country home in the open un-cut grass of the yard about 20 feet from a small tree line tha lead to and adjoining field
    We stare stared at each other for about three minutes, then it quickly ran to the tree line, went up the side of a tree and disappeared.

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