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Year Of The Palisades Panther

Bill Marple, Tracker SFI

Bill Marple says the paw prints were a sure sign that something unusual was lurking in the woods near Palisades, NY. “Cat tracks are perfectly round,” he noted during an August interview in Sneeden’s Landing. “Even if you can’t find the digits, you can identify that it’s a cat or a dog.” He was sure it was a cat — and based on the paw prints — a very large one.

Marple is Director of Operations for SFI Tracker, a non-profit group that provides tracking teams to assist in search and recovery efforts. Orangetown hired SFI Tracker for two weeks last August after six months of big cat sightings in Sneeden’s Landing and Tallman State Park.

All year long, the Palisades Panther was the big story in the little town on the Hudson. The black cat got his/her share of ink in The New Yorker and the New York Times. In the Palisades, NY community newsletter, Carol Baxter called 2009 “The Year Of The Panther.”

SFI did find definitive evidence of a large predatory feline living in Palisades, most likely along the gas line and on the cliffs of Tallman. Due to limited time and access, SFI was not able to pinpoint where the panther continued to return. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was unwilling to set traps, although it has said that it will continue to assist and advise the town in the town’s efforts to address the panther situation.

There have been no sightings since July. Presently, we have six cameras monitored by volunteers in various wooded areas on private property with permission of the owners.

Marple theorized the cat was an exotic pet that was released into the wild by its owner.

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With no recent sightings, you might assume that whatever it was is no longer there. If that isn’t the case, Baxter warns “stay calm,” if you should see an unusually large black animal.  “More than likely, it will walk away. Face the panther and slowly back away, keep eye contact and speak in a firm voice. If the panther does not walk away, show no fear and don’t run.” The best defense is to look larger than you are by raising your arms, opening your jacket or stepping up on a rock.

Source: Palisades NY community newsletter, October 2009
See also: Earthquakes and Panthers (Oh My!) 7/24/09, 3/18/09

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