David Sluder of Southaven, Mississippi, was in the parking lot of a Wendy’s in Hernando when he first noticed the large creature. It was somewhere around noon that day, which would otherwise have been no different than any other day. But Sluder saw something moving, something very large, and moving! He made a U-turn and parked his car to get a better look.
Was it a deer or a coyote?
“I happened to see something out of the corner of my eye,” Sluder told The Clarion Register in a recent interview. “Initially, it wasn’t out of the tree line when I saw it. I thought it was a deer or coyote, but when it walked out, I realized it was a big cat.”
In the video Sluder shot and later posted to Facebook, you can hear him estimate that he was approximately 100 yards from the cat, but he later told The Clarion Register it was closer to 75 yards away from where he was parked.
What Sluder did not incorrectly estimate was that the cat was very large.
“If I had to guess, I’d say it was about as high as my knee and I’m 5-foot 10,” Sluder said. “I’ve never seen a cat that big, which is why I shot a video of it.”
There was no lack of opinions on what the cat was.
Sluder shared his video to his Facebook page, as did News Channel 3, and the comments rolled in. Hundreds of people commented, many making guesses as to what kind of cat it was or telling stories about how they, too, had either experienced personally or heard of others seeing panthers from locations around the state.
Nobody really knew if this particular cat was a panther or not, but one Memphis television station had reportedly said that it was a black panther. However, big cats like cougars, also known as panthers, and mountain lions have supposedly been extinct in that part of the United States for over 100 years.
That didn’t stop many people from sharing stories of hearing and seeing panthers all over the state. Others heralded Sluder for finding proof of black panthers in Mississippi! And, those who claimed their expertise in the area of large wild cats weren’t shy about offering their opinions.
“This thing has been more hilarious than anything,” said Sluder. “Seeing all the ‘experts’ online.”
There were some true experts who gave their two cents as well. One biologist with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks, Ricky Flynt, explained that the hype may be a bit exaggerated by media who have been reporting on the sighting.
Time to ask an expert.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Dr. Leslie Burger from the University of Mississippi State Department of Wildlife and Fisheries put things into a more reasonable perspective. She offered two theories but pointed out that the one video does not offer up enough evidence to come to any final conclusions.
“If you take a look at what we do know from the video,” explained Burger, “we can see that we have a large cat hunting out in broad daylight and apparently not afraid of people.” To Dr. Burger, that suggests that this animal is either sick, possibly with distemper, or was brought to the area purposely and let loose.
“It’s more likely that the cat is a pet who escaped from someone’s keeping or was dropped off in the area by someone who no longer wanted to care for it,” said Burger.
While other biologists have come to the conclusion that this is a house cat, Burger said, “This animal is much too large to be a domestic house cat. The video provides enough evidence as to the size of the animal.”
See for yourself! What do you think?
Take a look for yourself and tell us what you think the cat is. One thing we know for sure, the good people of Mississippi have their eyes out awaiting the next sighting! It is, after all, still out there somewhere.