DADEVILLE, AL (WSFA) - There's quite a bit of chatter going on in Tallapoosa County about black panther sightings. Not only did we here at WSFA receive an inquiry about the panther, but so did the Dadeville Police Department.
Dadeville Police Chief David Barbour has taken a few calls in recent weeks about a black panther prowling around in his neck of the woods.
"They seem legit. I've seen a few Facebook posts as well," said Chief Barbour.
In fact, someone sent a photo to our newsroom. One of the sightings in the county has been around the Lake Martin Area Resort off Bama Park Road.
"It's funny at the same time," said Brennon Baker.
Baker says it's the talk of the county.
"It's funny at the same time, but I also believe it might be a missighting as well," said Baker.
In spite of all the chatter and stories floating around, there is one problem. There have never been any documented cases of a black panther in Alabama and no compelling evidence such an animal ever existed in the world. As for the photo sent to us, it's a handsome shot of a melanistic leopard, shiny and black, perhaps a resident of a zoo somewhere but no panther.
"There has never been a documented case of a black panther," said Head of Alabama Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Chuck Sykes.
So what is it these folks who called could've seen?
"A house cat, a black lab retriever, I don't know," Sykes said.
Whatever is lurking in the woods is probably something other than a big cat with a long tail. Since there is no law against killing a black panther, state wildlife officials encourage anyone to take him out.. if you can find him.
Chief Barbour says regardless of what residents may have seen, he urges everyone to be cautious and not to get close.