Mystery image of animal caught on deer camera making the rounds on social media

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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – There’s a lot of talk on social media locally today about a picture of an animal not usually seen in Alabama.

The image came from a deer camera in New Market, Alabama, and Brieana Fanning shared the picture, along with more than 1,400 others as of Wednesday afternoon. Her father Shane Fanning captured the photo a few years ago near Flint River Drive in New Market.

She and many others think it’s a mountain lion.  Others say it’s a black panther.

What do you think?

According to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the last confirmed mountain lion in Alabama was killed around 1948 in St. Clair County.  Free ranging mountain lions can still occasionally enter the state, but these instances are highly unlikely.  Read more at OutdoorAlabama.com.

Have you seen a large cat in the wild around here?  What do you think of the image from the deer camera?  Feel free to post in the comment section below.

101 comments

  • Steve Allen Graves

    No doubt in my mind. I live on Lookout Mountain between Gadsden and Mentone. I had the timber cut on the property three years ago and the pulpwood guys encountered a cougar three times. Some one else in the area claims the cat had a young one traveling with it, which if true means there’s a male nearby. Little River Canyon is only about 5 miles from where I live, and there’s plenty of room there for a big cat or two.

    • Linda

      Steve, I know for a fact of a big cat atop Lookout Mountain. I grew up about 3 miles from Blanche, on Hwy. 273 – and several friends saw this thing. I’ve heard it at night, and I’ve seen claw marks as high as my then boyfriend had a 22 rifle and we were atop Shinbone Ridge at a huge cedar tree and he placed the rifle up as high as he could get it and it barely reached the top where the claw marks started. You want to talk about a hair-raising situation? I was never so glad to get off the ridge and back to the house as I was that day. And the screams of that cougar sound like a screaming woman.

      • Tiffany Coots

        It’s a black panther.. And yes they r here.. I live n Mentone and where we lived when I was growing up there were some living in the old coal mine behind our house there was a cave there and it was their den.. They frequented our yard at night.. There was a black one, white one,and a tanish brown one .. Me and my brother went out to catch the bus and the black one appeared out of nowhere and just sit there looking at us and when it heard the bus coming up the hill it took off.. Scared me to death I was never so glad to get on the bus as I was that day.. Never saw it again after that but heard them often.. Last summer our neighbor where we live now said they saw on trying to get in their dog pin.. The fence around it is six foot tall and they said it was standing up with its paws on the top of the fence.. It was black two.. Yeah their around just cause you don’t c them all the time don’t mean that their not there..

  • Tony Gunter

    head isn’t mountain lion. Someone got a black jaguar pic net Attalla recently. Looks like that. May be a release. Get folk from Tigers for Tomorrow to ID.

  • growlikeaboss

    We got em. I saw one on monte sano mnt. On Christmas. 100%. The authorities will cover this up thow. Cost too much to get rid of them and most people would freak out with the thought of cohabiting with them. They prefer deer over human anyway.

  • Hughey Reynolds

    Without a doubt,I know we have mountain lions in Alabama. I am from the Cheaha area and I watched a big, beautiful, cat with a tan coat cross a county road and trot into the woods.

  • John Wolfe

    I was thinking this before I read Judy’s comment, but I agree. It seems too big for a Mountain Lion. My first thought was Black Panther. Maybe an escape or release from someone who houses big cats. I know there are a couple in northern Alabama, southern Tennessee.

  • Stan

    Regardless of what it is, I’m sure there will be plenty of rednecks out trying to kill it now that it has been blasted all over the news.

  • Anonymous

    We saw a black panther while we were driving to Chattanooga one day. No doubt in my mind that’s what it was, so I know they are out there. Not sure what’s on the camera, but could definitely be a black panther.

  • Rodney Johnson

    Probably a mountain line. Several have been seen near Little River Canyon (or one has been seen several times). For years Game and Fish denied there were bears in this area, even after they were seen. Now they admit there are at least a dozen or so living in the National Park.

  • Matt Maddox

    I know for a fact that mountain lions are roaming the woods here in North Alabama. I am in a hunting club in New Market, AL and during bow season in 2013, I had one walk 30 yards from me while I was hunting. This year, three different people had encounters with them also. I know 100% what I saw and I know it was a mountain lion.

  • Birt

    I think it is a black panther don’t know about alabama but I know where I was raised there are mountain loins I was raised up in taylorsville ga and alabama and ga a lot a like

  • brazors

    mountain lions not rare there, nor bobcats, but that head is not a mountain lion. definitely a cat species, but the head is big like a tiger. Maybe a zoo lost one?

  • Tara

    Absolutely!! I am so happy someone had a camera! Two years ago I was driving on Hobbs Island Road and definitely saw a mountain lion…I called the state county agencies, he/she was only 50 feet from me, I was offended when they tried to suggest I saw a dog…duh…I phoned as many as I could because many walkers/joggers walk their dogs and kids play down there…there is a wild animal park within 8 miles so I phoned to make sure they had no escapees..none. So, the only result is it had to be a mountain lion/cougar…finally, glad to see I am not alone!

    • Jeff

      Tara, I saw a mountain lion a couple years ago when I was going down Hobbs Island road just past the entrance to Ditto Landing going east. There was no doubt in my mind that I saw a mountain lion that day no matter what the Fish and Game Dept. says. One of my neighbors took a picture of a Black panther walking down the road by his house a couple months ago. There are big cats roaming the woods so I wouldn’t be walking alone without some type of protection.

  • mamac

    Mystery? Are you kidding me? Get real! it’s a big cat like a panther or cougar? And really, for goodness sake, its a wild animal why does everybody have to make a great big deal. It’s awesome!

  • Jana Powell

    OMG! I live on Flintriver Dr. and sit on my porch a lot in the summer. I have heard that squeal and knew it was a mountain lion or something I didn’t want to be near.

  • kevin

    ok yall if u look at it close u can see that it is a panther iv seen one on my way to birmingham a few years ago on interstate 59

  • scott kelly

    Boy oh boy how people like to take credit for something they no nothing about I a sure you that he hasn’t seen that twice my little neighbor was going thru her friends on Facebook and found this pic on my Facebook pics that is about four years old maybe even 5 years ago and she shared it. It actually came off a buddies trail can in meriandianville can’t believe some people would try and take the credit from a child that posted it way to go brieanna

  • Clayton Bigsby

    Pretty sure it is a liger.
    I’ve seen my share of liger in the Huntsfieldville area of Alabama.

  • B Thompson

    I live in West Etowah County. I saw a Mnt. Lion in our front yard (farm), last year, at night. My dogs were going wild but were afraid. The Mnt. Lion walked through the front yard, under the light of the moon, very clear, no fear. Welll, I had fear. The Mnt. Lion appeared quite confident.

  • Richard

    Yes I have seen them on several occasions back in the mountains around New Market \Elora Tn area. Once within half mile of the county lake.

  • brad guin

    I have most definitely without a doubt seen a black panther. Middle of the day in north Tuscaloosa county.

  • Jimmy Thomason

    Yes they are here! I have personally seen 3 of these elusive animals over the past 30-40 years. I saw one on Skyball Mountain near Blountsville, Al in the early 1970s, one at Rosa, Al. in 1972 and another (the biggest) in Springville, Al. YES IT WAS INSIDE THE CITY LIMITS! That last one was being chased by dogs behind the shop where I worked around 1979. I thought it was a deer and stepped out back to get a better look. The cougar bounded out into the open and across an open field. With a tail as long as it’s body, there was NO mistaking exactly what it was!

  • Joey

    A ‘black panther’ refers to leopards and Jaguars that are black. (All panthers are black). So if you all think it’s a panther it must be a Jaguar since leopards are not in the Americas.

  • Patricia Black

    I am one of those who thinks it is a mountain lion. While living in Claysville , Al, between Guntersville and Grant in 1998, my husband and I saw one. Heard what sounded like a female scream, and dogs were weirdly silent. He took a flashlight and looked toward an abandoned house, and there it was, full grown with a small cat. She was probably close to 75-100 lbs. We had quite a large wooded area behind us. Not surprised this was captured on film.

  • Erica Radford

    Me & my family used to live on the foot of Penitentiary Mountain in Lawrence County, Al. About 12 yrs ago, we too seen mountain lions on our property there. My dad seen a common tan colored one hunting the land behind our house. Me, my mom & little sister seen two black ones in the headlights of my mom’s truck in our front yard! Our neighbors were having problems with something getting their baby goats, and discovered it was a sneaky mountain lion.

  • Nicole McDonald

    They do live in North Alabama! My mom and I had one cross the road in front of us in the Bankhead National Forests in Lawrence County back in 1990!

  • scott nixon

    I saw a black mountain lion when i was a child. We lived at hobbs island right by the huntsville speedway.I was in the woods and it was lying on the ground licking its paws. It looked at me and kept licking its paws.I started walking backwards then turned and ran . I will never forget that. Now that i am older , i compare it to a black panther. This happened in 1974. I know what i saw.I know no one will believe this but i know what i saw. It looked just like the video image. So yes , They are around here. Recently, a woman in madison saw one. It was in the paper.They acted like it was not a mountain lion. I say she saw what she saw. I rest my case . Court adjourned !!

  • Scott

    There’s been a panther around my place since last year. Seen it twice. Phil Campbell/ Spruce Pine area

  • jfordusmc

    HAHA no surprise! They are on camera along the power line on green mountain in Huntsville ( male and female). These are very smart, elusive, wild animals. They tend to stay away from humans, but I have seen and heard them in paint rock as well. They are amazing creatures, but people should be aware they ARE here and everyone should be careful and mindful of their presence.

  • Cheryl Jones

    Visit this rescue center in Center Point,Indiana. It’s called The Exotic Feline Rescue Center. Exoticfelinerescuecenter.org
    They run on donations so help out if you can. The Lions will purr like a cat but they also make a high pitch sound you would never hear on t.v. Black panthers are no such thing; instead called the black leopard according to EFRC.
    Many times while there you will hear them roar for several minutes; something you will not soon forget. Visit the website or in person. Send any pictures you have and they will be able to help identify any sightings we have in this area.

  • Tracy

    In the late 1986 I was pregnant with my child. While walking with my loved one on Brindlee Mountain, Morgan County, AL we heard a panther squall!! Blood curdling woman like scream as I was always told it sounded like!!!

  • Heath

    Seen a mtn. Lion in west Etowah co. Between Altoona and Gallant back in the mid 90’s. Over a year and half time frame I seen it cross the road (tumlin gap) in front of me 5 different times. The long slender body and tail let me know what I saw.

  • Michelle

    Its a black panther. I saw one on sand mountain back 16 years ago late one night on the side of the road. The black panther ran back in the woods as I stopped and watched the majestic creature.

  • Moe

    I have seen a black panther in the Sardis city area about six months ago !! Another lady and I stopped at the store right passed where we saw the large cat and both said did you see that large black cat cross the road!!!!

  • Jarred

    Ive seen and heard a mountain lion many times in the past year close to new market rec center in the past year. Its scary.

  • Local

    Saw one (tan) cross Chapman Mtn/72E near the land trust about a year ago. It was heading toward the backside of Monte Sano. It was absolutely stunning to watch move.

  • Kayla Taylor

    To me it looks like a black panther they sound like they r screaming. Mountain lions sound different

  • Dave G.

    I have seen a mountain lion/cougar several times over the years on a mountain near Paint Rock. One passed within 10 feet of me once. Another time I was hiking in a hard to get to area on that same mountain and walked onto a large game trail that was headed toward a rock outcropping. After following it for a short distance, I was warned off by a high-pitched shriek. I did a 180 and slowly walked away. Also, some time ago the Redstone Rocket did a story on cougars being seen on the test range cameras, and they posted a picture of one standing beside a main road on Redstone. They are not only present in North Alabama, but there are quite a few of them. Most of them seem to be of the tan species. I did not know the black variety were here, too. I have heard debates about whether the black variety existed at all. They exist, and were frequently shown on 1950’s television.

    • Dave G.

      For the folks here who think that this is a type of Jaguar, Wikipedia reports that the Jaguar is the third largest cat in the world, after the tiger and lion. Also, it is both a keystone species and an apex predator. It kills its prey by the unusual method of crushing the skull with what are reported to be the most powerful jaws of any known feline species, including the tiger. In the U.S. the only reported existence is a small population near Tucson, Arizona. As for this picture, when it is enlarged, there appear to be spots (?) on its legs and tail. However, this might be due to the low-res of the image. Also, there appears to be some kind of irregularity in the spine area, but once-again this could be a photographic artifact. All things considered, this appears to be the mysterious “black panther”, within whatever species that belongs.

  • shaky

    There is no such animal that exist that is a black panther. There are Jaguars with skin mutations that give them a dark colored pigment.

  • Lorikeets

    We have seen one on multiple occasions in the Springhill Community of Cullman County. Many different people have witnessed this cat roaming. Looks just like this one caught on camera.

  • Sherry

    Beleive it or not there are more of than you know and have been in Alabama for years. My friend’s father captured one on his trail camera in Wetumpka close to Santuck and when I lived in Tuscaloosa, my friend and his wife had them in the woods behind their house we heard one howling and crying one nite and they had them on trail camera’s as well. My friend’s father called the state wildlife and they just try to shun him off. That is like bears they are here in Macon County where I live, a 100 pound baby black bear was ran over on I-85 a few years ago at the Tuskegee/Franklin exit one exit up from me. If there was a baby, you know there was mom and dad somewhere. Never know what is lurking in the woods, more than what you think. They keep quite about those cougars and things, the state people do.

  • Kathryn Barnette

    It is a panther. I came face to face with one in Perry county in 2003. I had just gotten out of a tree stand with a flashlight and it was after dark. It’s piercing scream is the most bone chilling sound you will ever hear!!! Scariest moment of my life.

  • David

    I have no doubt it’s a mountain lion. I was driving from Cullman to Norfolk, Virginia and when passing through holly pond I seen a mountain lion turn from the road and walk off the shoulder. I could see it plain as day but it was dark outside and before I could stop to get a picture it had ran off into a field.

  • Jimmy Hood

    10 years ago, a Jefferson County Deputy and I both saw the infamous black panther that roams the woods in Leeds. He called bit in on the radio and the local PD instantly dismissed the call saying that it was nothing morenthan a large black dog. We know what we saw was no dog. Big cats are here. Too many people have witnessed such events, yet it seems like most people want to deny the fact. We are not alone………lol

  • Johna Latham

    There are mountain lions, and black panthers in many areas of Alabama. There have been many sightings reported for years. The large cats, and bears, have no boundaries when it comes to state lines, regions, etc.. The Department of Conservation, Department of Natural Resources, Game and Wildlife, always refers to ‘last confirmed sighting’ well what more proof would you need than ‘caught on camera’ and there have been many, plus oral reports. A mountain lion crossed the road in front of me where I live in the south eastern tip of Morgan county. Neighbors have told me they too have seen the ‘cat’. Years back a black panther plagued the area with many sightings and killing of cattle. As such the same with ‘cats’ today and an obvious kill is at the throat. Where , when, how and why would, can or does a state line stop an animal? And where there is one there are more.

  • carol

    I don’t know what it is. Somebody will shoot whatever it is as soon as they find itJust like they did the last mountain lion in 1948. Sad we can’t leave them alone.

  • Mblaze

    Looks more like a black panther. I used to live in Ardmore,AL. And there was numerous spottings of them that way a few years ago. Awesome pic, wildlife at its best.

  • Johna Latham

    Here’s a new one for everyone. Fact; There were wolves turned loose in the Talladega National Forest a few years back by rescue/conservation peoples. The departments of Wildlife, Natural Resources and all other knew this. But, be there any sightings reported I’m not sure and all would certainly be denied.

  • Brian and Linda Hall

    I’m curious as to if this is a recent picture of the mystery animal caught in the deer cam or if it is the same one captured a few years ago.

  • aaron nix

    i live in holly wood alabama and i have seen cougers about 4 times and 1 that was black dont know what it was stalking a deer right here also herd several stories about them even seen deer cam pics of big cats in alabama in alabama outdoors magizine

  • Jason

    From look of it’s gait, and the size compared to the tree. I am most certain that is a Bengal Tiger.

  • Lori Randall

    We have a picture of a mountain lion on our deer camera that is posted on our property in Columbiana, AL.

  • Cindy

    Having hunted all the mountains and valleys with my Daddy and Granddaddy while growing up, I’ve never seen a mountain lion. I was told all my life that they were there and black bears also. . Was even told of a man who raised a cub long before I came along.

    Doesn’t mean they aren’t there. ..
    I’ve never seen God, but He is there, too.

  • Sandy

    I live in New Market and have heard a wildcat scream on a few occasions always during the night. Have seen their tracks also.

  • Abbie

    knew it. Seriously, I saw one dead on the side of Moores Mill Road about 7-8 months ago. I told everyone i knew about it. I knew it wasn’t a bob cat because it had a tail. I even went as far to making a report online. I knew i wasn’t crazy because shane saw it as well. I wonder if the Game Warden knows of this. The mountain went missing somehow. Someone must have removed it, and I assumed so the public wouldn’t know.

  • sandy

    I find the many different ways people can misspell “lion” way more interesting than the article itself. I wonder if some people actually think it is “mountain line” or “mountain loin”

  • Louette Saylor

    It’s either a Florida panther, also known as cougar or it’s a jaguarundi. Hard to tell the size and color from the photo. Authorities will claim it’s just a young male passing through. They will say there is no breeding population here. Don’t shoot one, unless you’re in mortal danger. It’s supposedly a $10,000 fine.

  • Just me

    I live in Boaz, but was on my way to Father in laws one night out toward the Etowah line in the back woods, and a huge cat crossed the road in front of me, and I stopped and watched it.. It was very obviously a huge black cat.. But when I told my family they were like well its dark maybe it was a dog… that was not a dog… I watched it closely it was a huge, very beautiful cat. It wondered behind the church into the woods and disappeared.

  • Carole Miller

    My sister and I saw one of these a couple of years ago while deer hunting in Autauga County. We both saw it, but we were not sitting together. They ARE out there!!

  • Karissa Christopher

    I live in the Anniston area. I have seen a young cougar crossing the road at the bridge on Iron city cut off road. And we saw one jump across the road on cheaha. My husbands friend is a game warden and when we told him what we saw he told us that 6 pair of cougars were preleased in the National Forest to help repopulate the species.

  • Collins MiMi

    The head looks so large to me and it looks like the left front leg might have stripes. I think it’s a tiger.

  • Joanne Jones

    We seen a black panther years ago in the Cullman County area in a tree over our coal pile we saw him jump down and run and he was huge, so they are out there for sure !

  • Don Odom

    I have no doubt that that is a large cat of some kind. It looks too large to be a Panther. In North West Alabama, we have a area in the very N.W. corner in a wildlife management area a place called Panther Creek. Across the Tennessee bordering Alabama and Mississippi we have Bear Creek. These areas were named that for some reason….D.O.

  • Jeanne

    Hard to tell, definitely a cat of some sort. If only some way to determine the actual size of this animal, nothing to compare it against.

  • Jim Felder

    About five years ago I was walking with my granddaughter on Indian Creek Greenway near Madison. I saw a big animal crouching a hundred yards or so ahead and told her “you’re going to get to see your first coyote today.” She took off toward the animal with her dog on a leash. When the animal saw the dog and my granddaughter headed its way, it jumped up and we then saw that it was a big cat, just like the one in this picture. The dog took off for it, dragging my granddaughter a ways down the paved walk but fortunately slowing the two of them down while the cat made a getaway. The cat made it to the top of the nearby bluff in about three bounds.

  • MAL63

    I can only hope the animal, whatever it is, is not doomed after this story. We must all learn how to live with wildlife.

  • timebak

    I used to work on Redstone Arsenal and for about 3 years in the 80’s spent a lot of time in Test Area 5 (south end of the Arsenal, near the river). On several occasions we saw a cougar on security videos in the area. After getting permission, we shared these videos with the Conservation Officers on the Arsenal. We identified both male and female cougars. They were always solitary. The female would show up on a fairly regular schedule, The male(s) were much more random.

    In the early 80’s, several of us from work hunted on a large piece of property in the upper end of Paint Rock Valley. At least three of us saw cougars on that property at various times. I saw two, each on different occasions, and one of them was quite dark colored and could have easily been called a black panther. It’s coloration was not solid dark colored, though. It was a dark sable-brown on the head, down the top of its neck and back, its tail, and its paws. Its throat and belly were a lighter, dirty creamy color. I was from 40 to 60 yards from it and watched it for several minutes as it crept across a pasture, stalking some young cattle. I had a pair of high quality 7 power binoculars with me and examined it closely through them. I ran away when one of my friend came walking up an old wagon road nearby, and he saw it too as it ran towards the woods on the others side of the pasture.

    In fall/winter of ’78/’79, I had a close-up encounter with a cougar down in a deep hollow off of Shepherd’s Hollow Road in the Lauderdale County Management Area. I was muzzle loader hunting and walked up on a cougar in the process of killing a deer. I had heard some brief thrashing around and then gurgling, labored breathing on the other side of a knoll, and thought it was a deer wounded by a hunter and went to see what was going on. As I approached, I started to hear growling. I suddenly realized that the growling was directed at ME! I froze in my tracks, and every time I made even the smallest move, the growling went up in intensity. It took me some time, from several seconds to a few minutes, to finally spot the cougar. It had the dying deer pinned down in some brush, and was biting down on its throat, suffocating it. The cougar’s glaring, wide-open eyes were glued on me, and its ears were laid back. I was about 50 feet from it. My 54 cal muzzle loader was cocked, but I knew that there was no way that it would stop that cougar before it shredded me. It let me slowly back away, and I got the heck outta there.

    Over the years, I’ve seen those three cougars in the wild in Alabama, three more in NE Mississippi, and one in Missouri.

  • Dude

    I seen one of these before, i live in alabama hazel green/meridianville they some woods behind the laurel bend place, we seen bunch of bears and bobcats and mountain lions. 3 at a time at most for all of them, but we know there more.

  • Carolyn Watkins

    Our friends just saw one out side their house about 11:00 p.m. They live in Hale County , Alabama They were putting up a game camera to get pictures today.They think it was a panther at their house.Very frightening.

  • Lisa

    My daughter saw a Mountain Lion dead on the side of the road last summer. It was about 1 1/2 miles on Moores Mill from the intersection of Winchester. She stopped and looked at it closely. When she returned it was gone. This was actually a relief for her to see this image because we had tried to tell her it was a bobcat. She insisted it had a long tail. She does not have a cellphone and could not take a picture.

  • anonymous

    I reported a sighting on MLK drive in the Kelly Springs Rd/HWY 53 area in December…. the authorities have the same lame statement….. im sure they will believe it when somebody gets hurt.

  • Buddy

    Black panther. We have em in estillfork at the bottom of skyline mtn. My dad and couple other people have seen em.

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