Cougar spotted around town?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

NATCHEZ — Steve Kirkland had to look twice when he spotted a large black cat across a ditch he was cleaning out at the back of Adams County Christian School’s property Tuesday morning.

“I saw his round face and cat ears and a long tail,” he said.

Kirkland, a maintenance employee at the school, said he reached for his camera, but before he was able to snap a picture, the cat fled.

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“He went down in to the ditch, and there was a beaver dam down there,” he said. “I could see where he crossed the dam and went up the embankment.”

Kirkland said after the cat cleared out, he went across the ditch and found a fresh track that appeared to be from the cat.

“There were four impressions and a fifth in the middle with no claws out,” he said. “These big cats don’t walk around with their claws out so I feel sure that was his track.”

Kirkland said the cat stood about 3 feet tall from the ground to the top of its back.

“I know it wasn’t a dog,” he said. “Not with a tail like that.”

For several months from June 2008 to April 2009, local residents and visitors reported spotting a large cat believed to be a cougar.

The first reported sighting was on Briel Avenue near downtown Natchez. Later sightings placed the cat on the Natchez Trace Parkway between mile markers one and three.

The last reported sighting was in April 2009 when a couple visiting the area saw what they believed to be a cougar while staying at Cedar Grove Plantation on Kingston Road.

However, each person who reported seeing a cougar said it was yellow or tan in color, not black.