Couple spots cougar on U.S. 61 South

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 31, 2010

NATCHEZ — The elusive Natchez cougar is reportedly back on the prowl.

Jeffrey Hewes of St. Francisville, La., was headed back home on U.S. 61 South when he spotted a large cat in a hayfield just past the entrance to Grove Plantation.

“My wife said ‘Look at the cougar,’” Hewes said. “It was out there in the pasture, probably 80 yards out in the field.”

After spotting the cat, Hewes turned his truck around, stopped on the side of the road and watched the cat for “seven or eight minutes.”

“I saw it; my wife saw it and out little grandchildren saw it,” he said. “(The grandchildren) got a big kick out of it.”

Hewes said the cat he saw was light tawny brown in color with lighter patches under its chest with a long, shiny tail. He estimated the cat weighed 80 pounds.

“It was clear as a bell a cougar, Hewes said. “It walked across the field maybe 25 or 30 yards and stopped. It looked like it was out there trying to catch mice in the cut hay.

“All I had in the car was a camera phone and as far away as the cat was, it wouldn’t have shown up in that hay.”

Hewes said he was positive of what he saw and sure that the Adams County area has at least one cougar lurking around, despite wildlife and fisheries agents saying cougars do not populate the area.

“They are up there,” he said. “Adams County is just the perfect environment for what they do with the wooded areas and the swamps. There is so much game with the wild pigs, deer and turkeys there is no doubt that you’ve got a bunch of them.”

Reported cougar sightings began in Natchez in June 2008 and were reported regularly for several months.

The last reported sighting of a cougar was in April 2009 when a couple visiting the area spotted what they believe was a cougar while staying at Cedar Grove Plantation on Kingston Road.

More recently, residents have reported seeing a black panther in town. There have been at least two sightings of a large black cat since March 2010.