Last week a delivery driver spotted what he described as a large cat-like animal feeding on road kill just outside the Fairlie township in the early hours of the morning.
The description was remarkably similar to reports in a number of sightings of the panther-like animal in Mid Canterbury roughly the size of a Labrador dog, with round head and a distinctive long tail.
These reports are common in lots of places where there are NOT black panthers or large cats. They may be large or hybrid domestic cats, other animals, or just misidentification. Some are hoaxes.
We see these stories circulate frequently because they make for good headlines. It SOUNDS important – a large cat roaming the countryside. But no one has been attacked by such cats (that is, confirmed to have been a big cat attack, some people have claimed to be but evidence is not clear). The odds of them being there are low, the odds of encountering one are, thus, lower. So, be very skeptical of these big cat stories.