ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene resident says his family member recently shot footage of what many on social media believe is a ‘black panther’ at Lake Ft. Phantom Hill.

This resident, who wishes to remain anonymous, shared a 22-second long video of what appears to be a large black mammal with a long, downward sloping tail.

The footage was allegedly captured near the dam around 8:00 p.m. Monday.

Whether it was actually a panther, another animal, or a fabricated story to get a stir on social media, the video keeps a long-standing mystery alive – black panthers in Texas.

‘Black panther’ spottings have been rumored not only in the Big Country, but across the Lone Star State for years, though nothing has ever been officially confirmed.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says black panthers aren’t actually a recognized species, and the spottings, which have largely been in the Hill Country region, are likely one of two things:

  1. That these sightings of giant, black predatory cats across the state are really melanistic jaguars, which have migrated steadily north from their primary habitats of central Mexico.
  2. These cats are an undiscovered or unconfirmed new species, and biologists will not recognize them until somebody delivers a body, either alive or dead.

There have also been reports of jaguarundi populations in Texas, which are wild cats slightly larger than house cats. They can be light brown to black in color.

Have you ever seen a ‘black panther’ in the wild? Chime in on social media and tell us about it!