Possible panther sighting in the Medowie State Conservation Area

UPDATE: 

CONSERVATION biologist Terry Domico has taken an interest in big cat sightings in recent decades but can’t say if there’s a panther on the prowl at Medowie.

The Anna Bay man said he would welcome any further evidence, to support the December sighting, that might help with general research into large feral cats.

“I don’t want anyone to be alarmed,” Mr Domico said.

“It’s [statistically] more dangerous to cross the street to the bus stop.”  

People with data can email biosurvey@australiamail.com

IN THE SHADOWS: Maitland man Andrew Lewer spotted a large black cat in his headlights on Ringwood Road last month.

IN THE SHADOWS: Maitland man Andrew Lewer spotted a large black cat in his headlights on Ringwood Road last month.

EARLIER:

A LARGE black cat has been spotted near Medowie – so large the witness believes it could be a panther.

Former Nelson Bay resident Andrew Lewer caught a good look at the large feline in his vehicle’s spotlights on Christmas Day.

“It walked out of the bush and got stunned by my lights for two to three seconds,” he said.

“When I came to a stop, 100 metres or so from it, it ran into the bush.”

The avid four-wheel-driver was on Ringwood Road, a veritable bush track, in the Medowie State Forest in the small hours one morning last month.

“It had big green eyes, was between 2.5 and three feet tall, and weighed 50 or 60 kilos no problem at all,” he said.

“It was less than a kilometre from homes.”

The area is no stranger to big black cats – albeit as the emblem for the RAAF’s 76 Squadron.

One of the squadron’s aerobatic teams adopted the black panther emblem in the 1960s.

Like theories around the Penrith-Blue Mountains panther Mr Lewer thought the Medowie animal could once have been kept in captivity – possibly even as a pet – before going wild.

“What I saw was built differently to a [domestic] cat,” he said.

“It was built thick all ‘round in its legs and body.”

Medowie Hardware and Timber manager Phil Arnts said the store was a revolving door of people with stories but he hadn’t heard anything about big cats.

“But it’s one of those things that people wouldn’t necessarily say so because no one would believe them,” he said.

“It’s one of those stories that comes out around a campfire.”

Mr Arnts said he used to spend a lot of time in the Medowie State Forest.

“I’ve seen some pretty big prints but I couldn’t say if they were dog or cat,” he said.

“There are a lot of wild dogs out there.”

Have you seen a cat that matches this description in the Medowie area? Email sam.norris@fairfaxmedia.com.