I continue to hear reports of panthers having been seen in Lee and surrounding counties in recent months. One would tend to believe if such sightings are actually occurring, by now someone would have provided irrefutable evidence documenting such an occurrence, either in the form of a photograph or a cast of a footprint.

So far, the only documented evidence of a panther occurring in the general vicinity is the photo of the dead Florida panther shot from a tree stand by a hunter in Troupe County, Georgia near West Point Lake nearly two years ago.

During the upcoming hunting season, I anticipated hearing more reports of panther sightings. I encourage hunters to carry a camera and take a photo of any critter they believe to be a panther or of any other large cat-like creature with a long tail they see. And if any such animal is seen, the observer should attempt to find a footprint of the animal. If found, the print should be covered until a plaster of Paris cast is made.

The procedure for making a cast involves pouring a solution of plaster of Paris, available in home improvement stores, dissolved in water onto the print and allowing it to harden, which it will do rather quickly. The solution should have a consistency resembling thick buttermilk. The cast should be presented to a wildlife authority, who can provide positive identification.