The Eastern Cougar in North Carolina - Owlcation - Education
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The Eastern Cougar in North Carolina

Donna Campbell Smith is an author, freelance writer, and photographer. She has an AAS degree in equine tech and is a certified instructor.



Are There Still Cougars in North Carolina?

The Eastern Cougar, according to North Carolina Wildlife Profiles was extirpated throughout North Carolina by 1900. But ask witnesses in Northeast North Carolina and they will tell you the cougar is still calling the Tarheel State home. Several witnesses have reported seeing both the usual tawny cat and a black version locally referred to as black panthers. Witnesses I talked with describe the cat as big, long, swift, and as having a long tail, distinguishing it from the well known bobcat.

Black Panthers have been a part of North Carolina wildlife lore for many years. Melanism, black coloration phases, occur in other feline species, and although none have been documented in the cougar species one wonders why it is not possible? Other possibilities suggest black jaguars or leopards, which might have strayed north from Central America or escaped from private owners. In any case, the cougar in North Carolina is considered an endangered and threatened species and are protected as such.

Do Not Shoot the Non-Existent Cats

Cougars are known by several names: puma, panther, mountain lion, painter, and wildcat. Though they are officially classed as small cats the average weight of a male cougar is 150 pounds. Most are a tawny color with brown points and a white underbelly. The eastern cougar requires around a twenty-five square mile range and will adapt to almost any terrain. They are carnivorous and prey on anything from deer to groundhogs, hunting mainly from the ground.

They are solitary animals except at breeding time. Their gestation period is ninety-one days. A female usually raises a litter every two years. A litter can consist of up to six cubs but average two per litter. They stay with the mother until they are two years old. While only one per litter usually survives to become an adult, those that survive have a life expectancy of about ten years.

The North Carolina Wildlife Profiles states that if anyone has indeed seen a cougar it was likely a “pet” that was released into the wild, and what people are reporting to be black panthers are probably bears or bobcats.

It is illegal to shoot the non-existent cougar in North Carolina. In 1987 a local hunter was fined for shooting two cougars in Tyrrell County. The cougars were hanging around a rural dumpster. Authorities explained those cougars had been pets and the owner released them into the wild once they got too big to handle. In any case, cougars are protected in our state.

Cougar Sightings in Washington County

Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington and Bertie Counties in Northeast North Carolina have had a good share of cougar and black panther sightings.

Jimmy Davis, a Washington County resident, saw a black panther twice within three days in the same area. It was about 4PM in September 2011 the first time Davis saw the black cat. He was on Jerdan Thicket Road driving about 45 mph when it crossed the road in front of him. He said he slowed down, the cat stopped and looked at him, then it jumped from the shoulder of the road across a wide ditch and disappeared into the woods. He said the cat was about 4 ½ feet long with a tail almost as long. Its ears were turned down and he saw a flash of white on its face, which he said could have been glare or maybe a marking.

Davis was taking a walk after doing some gardening on a dirt road alongside the woods the second time he saw the big cat. It came out of the woods in front of him and jumped across the path and the ditch in one leap then faded into the woods.

Davis grew up in the rural area surrounding Long Ridge and Hollis Roads near Plymouth, North Carolina. He knows for a fact what he saw in September 2011 was neither a bear or a bobcat. “I know what I saw,” he said.

Sandra Lee also saw what she describes as a black panther several years ago on Hollis Rd. It was dusk and she was turning onto Hollis Road from Hwy 32, going to visit a friend. The panther walked out onto the road as she was turning.

She said, “It just walked at a relatively slow pace for some time, while I was behind him, trying to figure out what in the heck it was. I knew it was some kind of cat because it had a long tail, and moved like a cat, but it was so large!”

The cougar’s cry has sometimes been described as sounding like a woman screaming. Gail Harrison Hodges of Washington County believes she heard that scream when she was a child. Her mother had taken the children to a field on their farm to chop weeds. The sound was scary enough that her mother sent them running for cover in the car. “I can still hear that sound, unlike anything I have ever heard.”

Gail said her late husband had a sighting on a Weyerhaeuser logging road off Hollis Road near where it joins Long Ridge Road. It was at twilight. She says he was very specific about the fact that it was a black panther.

Since this writing Gail has had her own sighting.This summer, 2020, she saw one. She shares her story:

“Each morning I let my little dog, Etta out to go to the bathroom. I let her out the front door of my house and then I walk to the back of the house to check on her and see where she is. When I got to the backdoor, I glimpsed something out the corner of my eye walking down the path that goes along the side of the house.

“It was tawny in color and at first I thought it was Etta. When it came into full view, I saw it was not Etta, it was too big.”

Then Gail got scared because she thought it was a coyote. But it wasn’t a coyote. As she watched it walk along the path and got a better look she realized it was a cat, a BIG cat and not a bob cat – it had a long tail.

There are corn fields on all sides of Gail’s house and woods in the back. She said the cat walked along the path, then turned and started across the back of her yard. That is when she saw the head and body fully.

“It was definitely a cat, it started to lope across my back yard and went into the corn field. I gathered Etta into the house as quickly as I could and called my son to tell him the news, also texted my other children.”

Gail said her news did not meet with any enthusiasm. She was kidded about what had she been drinking or smoking. She went shopping the next day and bought a field camera to try to get a picture of what she had seen.

“Imagine my surprise the next morning when I'd captured this picture on my field camera. I know it is fuzzy; it was taken at night and it was raining. This picture tells me that what I saw was real! I know what I saw with my own eyes and this picture just proves it for me.”

Gail Hodges caught this image on her trail camera

It was a dark and rainy night when Gail's trail camera caught this image.

It was a dark and rainy night when Gail's trail camera caught this image.

Cougar Sighting Near Pungo Lake

Claude Edward Jones, who grew up in Plymouth and now lives in Beaufort County, shares his cougar story:

“I was goose hunting on some land in Wenona. Having no luck, we decided to drive over to the Lake to view the birds. It was getting late and we knew we had to leave before dark. We were traveling down D Canal Road very slow because it was very wet and narrow. We were traveling south towards 43, when out of the brush, on the vehicle driver side, this huge black cat, not a house cat and not a bear, quickly leaped in front of us, then crossed the road, and disappeared into the trees that bordered the canal on the passenger side. I couldn't believe my eyes!”

Bertie and Tyrrell County Cougar Sightings

Alfred Smith, a Washington County native says he has seen cougars in Bertie, Washington, and Tyrrell counties over the past twenty years.

“In about 1997 we were leaving Roper to go to Belhaven one evening. It was after sundown but not dark because I did not have my headlights on. It was in the earl spring. We had just turned off of Millpond Road onto the Railroad Bed. There is or was a pasture on the left-hand side of this road not far from the turnoff. A big cat came out of the pasture about 100 yards down the road. I was driving about 45 or 50 mph and slowed down. The cougar did not seem to be in any hurry crossing the road. It was about 5 feet long with a tail that was 4 or 5 feet long that stuck straight out behind it. As it disappeared into the brush on the right-hand side of the road another cat about the same size came from the pasture following the first one. This cat was solid black and was moving much faster than the first on but we were much closer to it when we saw it.”

Smith had another sighting about the same period of time, 1996 to 1998. He was deer hunting with a friend early one morning in November in Bertie County on a track of land owned by Weyerhaeuser Paper Mill. It was early morning and they were walking along a canal bank to get to their stand. A cougar jumped the 15-foot wide canal and landed in the trail about 100 feet ahead of them. He described the cat as about 5 feet long and with a tail that was four or five feet long. He said it never made a sound as it came and was gone in an instant, but he has no doubt about what they saw.

Another incident happened late one evening while Alfred Smith was coming back from playing golf in Windsor. He was driving along highway 308 just east of the San Sucie Road in Bertie County when he saw a big cat sitting beside the road.

“Just sitting there like a dog would sit. At first, I thought it was a wounded deer that had maybe been hit by a car or something.”

He slammed on breaks to stop and the cat took one leap across the shoulder of the road and the road ditch and into the woods. Smith estimated the cat jumped 30 to 40 feet with one bound from a sitting position. The cat looked to be at least 6 feet long when stretched out plus at least a five-foot tail.

Smith said, “Talking with friends who I worked with and people who drive this road regularly say the cat has been spotted several times along 308 in this area.”

Cougar Signs

While there are many reports of cougars in North Carolina, word alone is not enough to convince wildlife officials. They need “proof” to be convinced. Physical evidence or even credible photographs have yet to be produced to back up the stories. There are some signs to look for that may suggest the presence of a cougar. They are scrape marks which are left by males scraping together a pile of leaves or debris and then urinating or defecating on it to mark his territory, tracks, feces, tree scratches, and hidden food caches such as a deer carcass. If you have a camera handy photograph any sign you come across so it can be verified later. Of course, a photograph of the actual cat would help substantiate your sighting, although in this age of digital photo editing, even a picture may not be convincing enough.

What Does a Cougar or Panther Sound Like?

People have described cougar vocalizations as everything from sounding like a woman screaming to a baby crying. They have a wide range of sounds which may include both of these descriptions and many in between. They also meow, growl and purr.

You can find sound clips online with a quick search.

Cougar Scream on YouTube

Report Sightings

I have loved reading your comments about your cougar sightings. Report your sightings to your state wild life agency as well. NC Wildlife Commission's website has their contact info. If enough folks let them know where they've seen one of the big cats they can investigate and find out there just might be a larger population than they've previously realized.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Where are the trail camera photos of Puma concolor?

Answer: Here is a link to NC trail camera project photos:

Question: I live in western Nc and I have a picture on my game camera of what we think is a juvenile cougar. Where can I post it to get opinions?

Answer: I think if you google cougars or mountain lions you will find places to compare your picture with others. I found this Facebook page they might be able to give you an opinion.

© 2012 Donna Campbell Smith


Shane Maki on July 31, 2020:

My girlfriend took a picture of one the other day in western NC its a large black cat definitely a panther , cougar .

Angela on July 21, 2020:

I live in Macon County. Two different neighbors saw what appears to be a cougar today. We live out of the city surrounded by cattle farms and forested areas. We always have a variety of wildlife here. We have a picture of a bobcat on our driveway three years ago. The cat people saw today was huge in comparison. We have all set up game cameras from the valley up the ridge. Most of the wildlife runs the same area. Hopefully we’ll get some photographic evidence.

N Johnson on July 08, 2020:

While I was mountain biking I came across a black cougar or large cat of some sort.


Sarah on May 15, 2020:

I live within city limits of Graham, NC (alamance county) and have a camera screenshot of what i thought was a bobcat at about 930a one morning. It was at the bottom of my steps. Tonight, i get a call from my neighbor n hes frantic. My husband n i go outside to see whats going on. My neighbor caught what looked to be someone crouched over at the end of my trailer on his camera. He rushed outside with a flashlight to investigate, only to come within 10 feet of a very large feline. He said it was very large and tan in color. It was larger than his dog thats pit bull and german shepherd mix. He said it growled and hissed (had huge teeth) and bolted away into the woods. Now thinking back to the screenshot from my camera, i believe it may have been a cougar cub. We r hugely concerned after this encounter as we have small children. We will b keeping a very close eye out. Hoping to catch it on our cameras for proof. But very scary. If we see it again, i hope we can get wildlife resources to come out and trap it to relocate it. Its not safe here. Thx for this article and the comments here. Its helpful to know ppl have sighted them.

bigl61 on March 22, 2020:

Post the video,so we can see it slso.ty

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on March 21, 2020:

Kari, thanks for sharing!

Kari Jester on March 21, 2020:

My husband and I live in rural Ayden, NC (near Greene County border) and while my husband was mowing our backyard this morning he saw a black animal, larger than a dog, emerge from the woods and walk a tree line approximately 300ft away from where he had stopped. He called me and I came outside and walked to where my husband was and I also saw the animal. My husband thinks it was maybe 50lbs and had a long tail. I took a video, it is clearly visible walking, although the video is zoomed in and not the best quality. We plan to notify NC Wildlife as well. It was very fascinating to see, although i honestly struggled to believe it was actually a cougar/panther, still do, because I have never heard of one being in NC!!

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 11, 2020:

Yes, it is illegal to kill one. That's more confirmation than others have had as far as wildlife officers have given. Thank you for your addition to the comments. Maybe one day someone will have their cell phone with them and get us a picture.

Mike on February 10, 2020:


The Wildlife Officer disclosed that there had been other reports in the area, with the same description of the animal. But they would not confirm anything beyond that. They did tell me, based on my description of the animal, it was probably "protected" and it would be illegal to kill it unless it was threatening livestock, life, etc. A confirmation of sorts as far as I was concerned.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 10, 2020:

Wow, Mike. That's getting close to home. I live near Wake Forest! Did the wildlife officer deny the possibility of it being a cougar/panther? Thank you for sharing your sighting.

Mike on February 09, 2020:

I'm now a retired Deputy Sheriff, but back about 6 years ago when I was still on the job and for several nights during that summer, we had a large, dark in color panther or cougar around our property in Wake Forest, NC... We heard it the first night before we saw it. It sounded like a woman screaming. Of course, hearing the "screams" I ran outside just in time to catch a glimpse of it as it moved quietly away into the deeper woods. I've lived in NC all my life. I know what a Bobcat sounds like and how they I knew what I saw was not a Bobcat. The next night right after arriving home at approximately 8PM from work I clearly heard it vocalizing again in the same area. I had a powerful spot light at hand and was still wearing my duty gear. I saw CLEARLY a large black panther. It had a long tail. It's eye shine was orange with the light (which I thought was strange). It moved deliberately and quietly in a circling arch...watching me as it went. It moved behind a large root ball in the deeper woods and I lost sight of it. Didn't think it was wise to pursue it any further into the woods with just a pistol. NC Wildlife cam out looking for tracks or signs...we found nothing definitive.

Ironically this was not the only encounter with these cats I've had in my life. As a teenager, my good friend and I saw an identical beast crossing the road in front of us on a bright moonlit summer night as we walked along... disconcerting to say the least. Its a large inky black animal and quite clearly a cat.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on January 28, 2020:

Thank you, Tonia for sharing your story.

Tonia R on January 28, 2020:

We saw one in our front yard a few years ago. We live in eastern Pender county, and our home is surrounded by the holly shelter game lands. I was so shocked I didn't grab the camera. But there's no doubt what it was. A young adult light brown mountain lion. It wandered out of the woods, into a a small 6 foot fence we had on the side (the gate was open because nothing was in the fence at the time ). From a standstill it gracefully jumped and landed on top of the corner post Of the six foot fence. It sat there for a moment looking around, with its very long tail hanging down. Then it hopped off the other side and Walked back towards the woods. I'd never seen anything like it before.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on January 23, 2020:

It is believed the black panther is the melanistic colour ( black coat due to a gene that produces a dark pigment) variant of any Panthera, possibly or a jaguar which would explain the spots. But I suppose its just as likely a cougar with the black gene.

Spartanburg Sc Guy on January 23, 2020:


The DNR, in 2017, was saying a car would've ran

it over by now. It was impossible to travel that far without being ran over. At first i thought "a dirty panther" but when i started looking online, i discovered they have brown spots underneath the darker coat. It came out the woods and walked along the tree line in my backyard as i was talking on the phone. It wasn't in a hurry or anything and didn't seem to pay me any attention. It was around 40yds away approximately 7:30 September.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on January 23, 2020:

Was it dead? Why did they say unless it was run over by a car? Thank you for sharing your sighting with us!

Spartanburg Sc Guy on January 22, 2020:

I seen one in broad daylight in my yard as i was standing out there approximately 40yds away late in the evening. It looked like it was black but with dark brown underneath. As if it was dirty but it wasn't. 3 ft long and tail was about the same size. DNR told me it was impossible unless someone released it and it'll get ran over by a car. I don't care what anybody says, i saw it with my own eyes in daylight. THEY DO EXIST..PERIOD!

JD on January 22, 2020:

multiple cougar sightings reported in Pungo, Beaufort County in recent weeks

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on January 21, 2020:

Thank you for sharing your story, Bruce.

bruce feltmeyer on January 21, 2020:

Please do not allow any so called experts tell you there are no mountain lions living in North Carolina. About 3 years ago on a rainy afternoon in late June my wife, daughter and I witnessed a rather small brownish/tan cat creeping up our cobblestone sidewalk below our home in Zirconia, NC. This cat was about 5 feet long, 3-4 feet tall and a tail about the same length as the body, and a whitish underbelly. We think it was stalking a squirrel, rabbit or chip monk at the time we saw the cat. We were stunned while watching this beautiful animal. We were watching from a second story closed window and either the cat heard us talking or sensed we were watching. The cat glanced our way and then bolted to nearby brush. We immediately google searched the pictures of mountain lions and it was an exact match. I would guess this animal was under 100 pounds. It was about the size of a large german shepard dog. We had arborist cutting some dead trees a few days later that claimed they could smell cat urine near our house.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on November 28, 2019:

Your local wildlife officer or see the link in the article for the NC Wildlife Commission

tsmith21476 on November 27, 2019:

Who do we tell if we feel wild life is being harmed or if we spot wild life can we inform someone so they know to protect them? The problem is they keep developing and we need to let the land be for the animals to survive.

Mr. Lee on October 19, 2019:

Cougar I spotted crossing Hwy 182 just outside Lincolnton in Crouse N.C. around 7:45 am this morning 10/19/19

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on September 24, 2019:

Wow, thank you, Button, for sharing your story.

Button on September 23, 2019:

I had what absolutely looked like a black panther come across the road one evening about a year ago. It slinked across the road and stopped in front of my car. With one paw up it turned its head and showed it’s white fangs like it was snarling at me. I was afraid it would jump on the hood of my car. Then it just slinked off across the road into the trees. This was near a development called Summerhouse right before Holly Ridge, NC. I’ll never forget seeing this huge, black cat creature.

Vicki Dembowski on August 30, 2019:

I saw a black panther in Pamlico county in July 2019.My husband and I watched him as he stood on the side of the road and he watched us for about 10 seconds before he turned and jumped into the woods .He was much bigger than our St.Bernard.

Rod Ward on August 01, 2019:

Am told by a neighbor that a mountain lion has been spotted in Pinehurst, NC near by Lake Pinehurst in the last few days.

Jack Thyen on July 08, 2019:

Friday, July 5th at approximately 7:00pm my wife an I saw one dash across Green Road in Rutherford County, NC. I can't say for sure what it was, but it was definitely large and Feline!

Cat replacement on June 12, 2019:

I’m adding 4 more cougars to the Appalachian mountains. 2 females and 2 males.

Carla Frey on May 19, 2019:

In November 1998 my Dad and I were in North Carolina to work on our cabin. It is located in Balsam North Carolina. We had been to dinner in Waynesville driving back up Woodfin Road to the cabin. It was after 8 pm. I had looked down when I heard my dad gasp. I looked upand in front of me was a cougar stretched full over the road. It appeared she had jumped off the bank and cleared the road going over the side. Running down the road there were two small tails that soon followed her over the bank. Yeah I know they're extinct in North Carolina. We know what we saw. There have been other sightings on our mountain and I was not witness to. The most recent sighting was within the last month.

Sherry Campbell on May 18, 2019:

We saw one yesterday, driving out of Creston. Around 5:00. Nice tan color, long tail, meandering across the road into the trees. Gorgeous!

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on April 28, 2019:

Stacey Herring you can report it to your state or county wildlife official. See the link above in my article.

Stacey Herring on April 27, 2019:

I saw one today on Jim Minor Road in Alamance County about 5:15- 5:30.

To whom do I report this?

I was driving, so no picture. But my passenger saw it too!

willowm on March 08, 2019:

Pretty sure what I saw running across the road in Pender County on Highway 53 was a cougar.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 20, 2019:

Wow, I hope you get it on film. So awesome to watch it that long.

Alice Jennings on February 20, 2019:

My son and I saw one in June '16. On HWY 37 in Belvidere, we arrived home one evening around 11 p.m., and as we pulled into the yard, the headlights were shining into the woods. My son said, "look, there is a deer!" As I looked into the woods, about 100 yards away, I could see 2 sets of eyes...the one further back appeared to be crouching, and as we watched, it stood up and turned and walked away into the woods. The other one watched stared at us for a moment, but we didn't get out of the car because we didn't know what type of animal it was. As it began to walk around in a small clearing, we could make out the features including a long, feline tail. There was no doubt that this was a cougar, I've seen several in Florida. As we watched the remaining cat, it briefly walked in a small area, and appeared to be backing up to trees in the vicinity and lifting it's tail. That was a long bushy tail, almost as long as the body of the animal. As the tail waved in that contented cat fashion, you could almost see some dark striations underneath, in the fluffy part. Surprisingly, we were able to sit in the car and watch the cat for a good 10 minutes or so. Actually, we had to, there was no way I was getting out of the car with an animal that large in the back yard. The next day, I called the Game Warden, and he was kind enough to tell me the animal is extinct. There have been more sightings on Beech Springs Road, about 5 miles away. At Christmas, I set up a trail cam in the area, to see if I could possibly snag a photo.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 13, 2019:

Thank you for sharing your sighting!

Katherine Baker on February 13, 2019:

Saw a large long cat running flat out across an empty field around 7:30 am this morning on 15-501 in Cameron, NC. It crossed the road in front of us, and kept going into the woods on our right. The tail was straight out behind it, and seemed to be nearly as long as the cat. It’s ears were laid back and it was moving like something was after it. It was brown with what looked like black or dark brown areas - not spots, but it wasn’t a solid color, either. I’ve seen bobcats in our area, but this was much longer with a long tail.

Francine on February 12, 2019:

Saw a tabby looking cat that size o idea what is was

Austin on January 21, 2019:

I seen one on my way home, heading in Va, around bullock, nc. Blew my mind

John on January 14, 2019:

Ive seen a black cougar at least once, maybe two times. The second time i was not able to get a clear sight. The first time i had a very clear view. It was a long cat. The tail was about the same length of the body. It was in a fully streched leap from one high position to another high postion. I was in a road cut , each high bank was about 8 ft high. The cut is 20 foot wide at the base of the banks. The cat landed in the bottom of the cut no more than 2o feet from my position. It was as plain as a cat in a zoo. This was in washington county, virginia. I think it was 1992.

Lenn on January 13, 2019:

Great article Donna, I have seen 2 one near Shearon Harris lake. It was very robust and looked like a black leopard. The other crossed the road in front of me and my family and looked like a black puma. That was in Macon Nc near Lake Gaston. Their have been quite a few sightings in the Lake Gaston area from reputable people. I would suggest looking up Frank Newells articles in the Warren Record he has some good accounts going back to the 70's and he wrote a wildlife officer came face to face with one in I believe 2017 at Lake Gaston

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on December 24, 2018:

Thank you Whitney for sharing your account! Was it daytime?

Whitney Strickland on December 24, 2018:

I'm so glad to find this page! I want to add an account. About 8 or 9 years ago (c. 2009), my parents and I were traveling late in the evening through the Green Swamp in Columbus County, NC on our way to Holden Beach when we saw, standing on the left shoulder of the road and clearly visible, a cougar. At first I thought it was a deer because it was so tall, but as we neared it, we realized it was a cougar. It just stood there perfectly calm and still. It was tawny colored, with a cat's face and a long, thick tail. I know wildlife biologists say cougars don't exist in NC, but this one certainly did! It was NOT a bobcat; I have one of those in the chest freezer awaiting taxidermy. I've been to the NC zoo and the Carnivore Preservation Trust in central NC and have seen cougars up close. This animal was definitely a cougar! A friend of mine who worked for Georgia State Wildlife explained that unless a state wildlife biologist "sees" the animal, the state doesn't think it exists. Smh.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on October 22, 2018:

Thank you, Viki, for your accounts.

viki on October 22, 2018:

i know for a fact that black panthers are in the coastal areas of north Carolina dating back to the 50s when my parents were married one walked by my mother on their dirt road in queens creek and I have seen them in 2003 jumped in front of my truck then saw another one just in 2016 so yes they are here in the marshes of the coast land

Jaquan on September 08, 2018:


Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on May 16, 2018:

Awesome - take your camera with you!

Brad on May 10, 2018:

My wife and I swear we saw one last year on our vacation in Southern Shores. We were walking back from the beach on Skyline Rd and saw what looked to be an enormous tawny cat, ~2 ft high with a long tail. We were skeptical that it could be a wild cat but after doing some research it seemed possible. Neither of us could convince the other that it was a house cat. Way too big. Only saw it for a few seconds before it wandered into the woods. We're staying at the same place this year in a few weeks, going to keep an eye out this time.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on May 06, 2018:

Where was that, Alice? Don't have to be specific, just state and county.

Alice on May 02, 2018:

June 20, 2015, my son and I were retuning home around 11:00 p.m. As we pulled into my mother's yard, the headlights hit the woods about 150' away. My son said, "mom, there's a deer!" As I looked into the woods, I could see a shape, and it turned it's head to me so that the eyes were reflecting in the light. It appeared to be crouching down in the leaves, but as we watched, it stood up and calmly circled the area between the trees, It had a long tail, very long, that was very feline. It must have been about 3' at the shoulders, because initially we thought it was a deer, until it turned around with that long tail. It appeared to lift the tail, and back up to several trees. We watched the animal for several minutes while it appeared to be marking territory with that long tail waving in the air. A couple of nights later, a cousin about 4 miles away reported pretty much the same thing. It must have settled in his area, because he has seen it several times, in the same vicinity.

Ken on April 22, 2018:

I lived on the outskirts of Spring Hope, NC, 20 miles West of Rocky Mount. One night the dog in the backyard was barking. We had nothing but woods and a stream right behind our house. It was very dark. I walked over to the dog, and heard a very very low catlike growl. It came from a very large cat. It sounded like it was just on the other side of the stream roughly 30 feet away. The hair on my neck stood straight up. This was not a house cat. This sounded like a cat, that could take me out. I yelled loudly in the direction of the cat, and slowly walked backwards back to the house. Nothing happened, but I know I had a very large cat in those woods that night.

Layken Sirmans on March 20, 2018:

They are scared animals

bigl61 on March 20, 2018:

If anyone has picture's or video please post them.

Mia Pernell on March 19, 2018:

It was actually 2 that i encountered , one of them was off of Pea Ridge road , and the second one was off 32 of roper , I would love to show you these pictures

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on March 19, 2018:

That is awesome. Where was it? I'd love to see it.

Mia pernell on March 18, 2018:

I actually have picture photo proof of the encounter of an black jaguar

Mia Pernell on March 18, 2018:

What if we do have pictures of prove that we seen a black jaguar

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on March 03, 2018:

Wow! I am not far from there. I'd love to have one of those night cameras to see if one wanders by.

Patsy Kravitz on February 27, 2018:

Hello! Two nights ago, I saw one of these creatures. We were both VERY surprised to see each other at Hart Road, in Franklin County, NC. At first I thought it was a LARGE dog. Nope. Wrong ears. And not a fox or coyote. Huge comparatively.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 07, 2018:


saulsy1 on February 06, 2018:

I seen one in my yard 2 years ago. Nash county.

Mary Nour on January 26, 2018:

We saw an adolescent cougar last year near Almond NC. He was the size of a medium dog. His color was dark with lighter spots.

January21 on January 22, 2018:

Thanks, Donna. He was about a mile from the original sighting. Always have my camera on my phone, but he was quick!

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on January 22, 2018:

Judy Joyner, it sure sounds like a cougar/panther. Too big for a house cat and the tail probably rules out bobcat. Maybe a young cougar. Was the 2nd time in the same area as the 1rst? Start carrying a camera with you!

Judy Joyner on January 21, 2018:

Regarding the Eastern Cougar, I live in Scaly Mountain, NC which is in Macon County. Today, while pulling into my drive, a dark brown cat crossed the road in front of me. He had a long tail, but appeared to be smaller than the physical descriptions that I've read--maybe 40 pounds--about 2 feet in height. I saw one earlier in the summer which fit the same description. Would it be a cougar or Panther?

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on December 27, 2017:

Thank you for sharing your experience. Amazing! I'll be on the lookout next time I go to Corolla!

Eduardo & Heather Mera on December 26, 2017:

Hey Donna,

First of all, thank you for writing this piece. Now I can at least show people this when I talk about the experience my wife and I had today.

We were driving on our way back from Corolla, N.C. Passed through Duck, N.C. but before making it to 158 headed back to Nags Head. It was around 4:15 pm and there was still plenty of light from the sunset.

We were going around 35 mph when all of the sudden we saw a large feline run across the road from the right shoulder to the left and disappear instantly. It was probably around 3 1/2 feet tall and about 5 feet in body length. The tail was very long and it looked very thick. The coloration was more of a dark color. Did not look like your typical cougar.

At first we weren’t sure what we saw because we thought eastern cougars were extinct. Then my wife did some research on her phone while I drove.

It was such a blessing to be able to see this magestic reclusive animal. There is a lot of wild life in this part of N.C. but we’ve never seen anything like this before. We will never forget it.

Jordan Smith on December 26, 2017:

I will forever remember the day I saw a cougar. I was about 8 or 9 years old and going along the interstate(26 or 40 I can't remember) and as much as they like to be hidden away from people,I will swear up and down until the day I die that I saw one standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking the interstate. I will never forget it. It looked so majestic it was looking to it's left like it was just watching traffic. That was the best experience of my life to this day!

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on November 15, 2017:

Wow, Sally! That is a great story and how wonderful to have seen it. Thanks you for sharing.

Sallie Taylor on November 09, 2017:

I wanted to tell about a surreal encounter that I had with what I believe was an adolescent panther. I have a painting studio nestled in the woods of Highlands, NC. The door is glass and my easel is about three feet away from the door. As I was painting, movement at the door caught my eye. I turned to look and saw the middle section of what I thought was a slender, light brown dog walking by until I saw the long graceful tail that had a few dark rings towards the end that ended with a dark tip. Then I was thinking very large cat. I went outside to follow it. It went behind our kiln building. I crept around the other side to see it sitting near the walled fence looking at me. We looked at each other for a few moments. This cat had the most curious and sweet face. The eyes were outlined with dark and there were a few more stripes on the face... no scruffy ears or whiskers on the lower sides. I went back to my studio to get my phone/camera but the cat was gone when I returned. Unreal!

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on October 27, 2017:

Wow! Thank you for sharing your experience and the detailed description.

Audrie Sumner on October 16, 2017:

We saw a a black one in Madison County,NC on Saturday at dusk,October 14,2012 onStation Gap Rd. on the woods edge of Station Gap Cemetery. It was larger than a black lab,about 70-80 ponds, long tail, took its time with that cat stroll. Totally ignored us, but we got very quiet once we saw it 150 feet away.Srolled out of sight and then dogs stated barking in the direction it took. Definitely feline.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on September 12, 2017:

I can't open the image. Where was it located?

L Stephens on August 13, 2017:

South Richmond County

Solid dark brown long tail cat about the size of a cocker spaniel lo

Longer legs cat head

6 AM crossing near US1

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on August 10, 2017:

Thanks Jimmy. Keep us posted on your neighborhood sightings.

Barbara on July 27, 2017:

I live in Wake County, Rolesville, NC and I saw what I believe to be a mountain lion and a small baby mountain lion just walking pass my house, crossing over Rogers Road last night around 11:30 p.m.

Doreen Maser on July 26, 2017:

I seen a cougar cross HWY #1 in Warren County NC on 7/21/2017 around 7:30am. I was driving home from work and heading to Interstate 85 and I seen a large cat with a very long tail jump across the highway.

Thomas Dixon on December 31, 2016:

Hi, we are vacationing just across the bridge at Emerald Isle and a. Between 9:30 pm and 11pm me and my girlfriend seen one no more than 50 yards away, just walking through the yard like we weren't even there. She thought it was a large dog at first. I'm actually outside on the porch now hoping I would see it tonight but I know that's a slim chance. But it was a beautiful creature. It's 2:47 am now about to call it quits. Happy New year's 1/1/2017

Jimmy Davis on October 11, 2016:

Donna, really like these sightings, and thank you for approaching the matter with professionalism.

Antoinette on December 20, 2015:

I know my animals pretty well. Not to mention that I am engaged to someone who is a hunter/taxidermist. There was a panther in my mother's backyard. He was huge. Gray or black in color. What distinguished it from a bobcat was the tail. It was the longest tail I've ever seen on an animal. He was eating scraps my mom threw out. I know what I saw regardless of what the "experts" say. I got a pretty good look because he stared at me with his tail stretched straight out...until I got smart and ran back in the house. It was not a bear, coyote, fox or dog. It was a very LARGE cat with a very LONG tail. It was a panther or something just like it. This sighting was in Sampson county 3 nights ago.

mike on September 22, 2015:

Lol they are deffinantly in the east. And when I say east I mean northeast nc. I lived in colerain nc for about 5 years (ahoskie,edenton,williamston area) my parents and i were riding through an area called black rock on 2 seperate occasions and spotted what I’m assuming to be the same cougar. Both times there were people on byclcles involved. The first time there Was a kid riding and about 200 yards after we passed by him the lion ran across the road in front of us (stepdad almost ran him over). We both got out of thencar and tried to chase him just to get a look and possibly a picture, but he ran inot a field of tobbacco and disapeared. From head to tip of tail he almost took up half the road. The second time we passed two men riding and watched as he ran across behind them. I have watched documentaries on them and noticed that alot of the sightings/attacks involved someone riding a bike. Curiousity I imagine, but none the less, they are here. Also about a week ago in Goldsboro nc about 20 minutes from were I live now (wilson) someone took a photo of a cougar in a feild close to his home… Whether or not these animals are someone’s pet that was released or if they truly are not “extinct” they are deffinantly here in North Carolina.

j. carr on September 18, 2015:

Sept. 14, 2015 I witnessed a tawny brown cougar on a railroad track in a swampy area in Plymouth, NC near the Roanoke River. I am a locomotive engineer & have seen every kind of wild animal native to this area on the tracks in my 26 year career. I got a good side view of the cat when I rounded a curve as it was standing across the track. After 2-3 seconds it took one leap & was in the forest. This was 1:45 pm on a sunny afternoon. Always heard stories of these & black panthers. I am definitely a believer now!

bigl61 on September 10, 2015:

My wife and I saw one in Rutherford county nc on hwy 108 where it crosses green river between polk and rutherford co. This was approximately 23 years ago ling before cell phones with cameras but it crossed the rd and stood on bank with only one lane separating us from the cat we watched it for 7-8 minutes before driving awayand it definitely wasn't a bobcat be it panther or cougar it was all black and 7-8' long nose to tail it was one beautiful cat I figured it had followed the river from the mountains since we are situated in the foohills of the blueridge mountains.

leslie on September 10, 2015:

My wife and I saw one in Rutherford county nc on hwy 108 where it crosses green river between polk and rutherford co. This was approximately 23 years ago ling before cell phones with cameras but it crossed the rd and stood on bank with only one lane separating us from the cat we watched it for 7-8 minutes before driving awayand it definitely wasn't a bobcat be it panther or cougar it was all black and 7-8' long nose to tail it was one beautiful cat I figured it had followed the river from the mountains since we are situated at the foot of the mountains.

vickie Craig on August 28, 2015:

I live in western North Carolina, In the past 20 years I have seen 5 mountain lions in this area. One chasing a herd of deer across the parkway near the haywood county line, one setting above the ferrin knob tunnel, one dead baby in haywood county hit by a car, we tried to turn around and grab the carcus but another truck stopped and beat us to it. One in macon county while at the chunky girl ruby mine and one in hurricane creek in haywood county. All of these I have seen with my own eyes, just too bad I didn't have a camera in hand. And no I am not confusing with a bobcat, a bobcat doesn't have a three foot tail.

Bob Gaddis on September 27, 2014:

I saw one a couple of years ago on NC between Kinston and Grifton. The Wildlife folks deny that they are here, but the hunters in western Craven County, a few miles east of here, see them often.

Anthony on September 20, 2014:

I have seen big black cats 3 different times Seen two together in Sampson county around 12 miles outside of Harrells N.C. both times going to tree stand. They were 2 foot tall.. One other time one crossed road in front of me at Black river in Sampson county from nose to tall yellow line to white line [real big]

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on February 15, 2014:

I removed the photo of the black panther as I found it has circulated the internet and I am no longer sure of its origin.

Mike Willis on January 10, 2014:

I have seen a black panther twice, once on Mashoes Rd,Dare County NC,and once on hwy 264 by the airport in Engelhard. Both sightings were late at night.The Mishoes sighting was approx l8 years ago, and 264 was 3 years ago.

Panthers2013 on November 10, 2013:

Driving south on Hwy. 17 off . Saw large black cat about a mile before the Shallotte exit. My son spotted it in open grassy field and then showed it to me. Huge, couldn't believe it!

Marina from Clarksville TN on October 23, 2013:

We have 2 cats so I am a cat fan. I love cougars too and you have a great article on cougars. Thank you for the article and I love it.

Alfred Smith on August 17, 2013:

I saw 2 "cats" this morning about a mile east of Williamston on hiway 64. They were way to big to be house cats (about the size of a fox) and had long tails so I know they were not bobcats. One crossed the 4 lane road ahead of me and the other one went back from where they had come. I know the wildlife people say we do not have cougars in eastern NC but I don't know what else these cats

could have been..

40 minutes ago

Stephanie Henkel from USA on August 12, 2013:

I live in Currituck County, and have not heard of any cougar sightings here, but I would love to see one! Thanks for an interesting article. I do hope that these beautiful animals and their habitat remain protected. Problems always arise when potentially dangerous wild animals are forced into populated areas as they lose their natural habitat.

Donna Campbell Smith (author) from Central North Carolina on August 10, 2013:

Ann S. thank you for sharing your encounter with the cougar.

Ann S. on August 09, 2013:

I will never my close encounter with a tawny Carolina panther outside my home on Little Bearpen Mountain in Macon County, NC. During the early morning hours that day, I had heard what I took to be a woman moaning and screaming in the creek that is fed by a water-fall behind my house. After sunrise, I was standing on the walkway in front of my house when I was shocked to observe a cougar calmly walking up my driveway to the road, across the road into a hedge of Rhodedendruns. It glanced at me nonchalantly as it went on its way. never changing its pace.

moonlake from America on May 06, 2013:

We go through the same thing in northern Wisconsin wildlife officials saying we're seeing big house cats. How dumb they think we all are. Enjoyed reading your hub voted up.

Randy Peterson on December 29, 2012:

Cougers have been seen near Belhaven, North Carolina. I live near Pamlico Beach and have seen a cougar near my home and also between Belhaven NC & Washington NC.

BDB on December 12, 2012:

I too believe there are cougars in eastern nc. Wildlife officials maintain they're not indigenous but pets that have escaped or have been set free, either way I think not acknowledging there presence is naïve.

I had a sighting on hwy 70 between new bern and kinston, it was early in the morning and I've seen bears, bobcats, deer and just about every other four legged animal and was stunned with what I saw. It was about 20 yards in front of my vehicle and moving quickly across hwy 70, it was about 5 ft in length and dark/black/grey, I was literally stunned and was only ridiculed by people I told, although most who were hunters believed me or said they don't doubt there presence in eastern nc.

Rogue on November 24, 2012:

I was driving to work along Highway 55 approximately six miles west of New Bern in eastern NC at approximately 6:30 am in late August 2011 when a cougar crossed the road in front of my vehicle. It was approximately 40 - 50 yards ahead of my car and was moving along at a trot. It was light brown in color with the characteristic long tail. It was definitely not a bobcat, as it was too large and the shape of it's head and ears was wrong. Also, it had the previously mentioned long tail. I have no way of knowing if it was an eastern cougar, one that had migrated from the west or an escaped captive. Several of my friends who are hunters have maintained for a number of years that they occasionally spot cougars in the same general area while hunting.

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