Panther a local legend: Even former mayor has tale to tell
COUNCIL rangers have stepped up patrols in the Glenwood area as the panther mystery deepens.
It comes after local resident James Fowler claimed he had come face-to-face with one of the region's legendary big cats.
He told the Chronicle he was confronted by a panther-like creature - bigger than a cattle dog and covered in black shiny fur with razor sharp teeth.
Environment Portfolio Councillor David Lewis said it was important for residents to report feral animal sightings.
"It helps us identify where feral animals are active within the region, especially in the less populated areas," he said.
"The data is used to develop our control program.
"Control programs are much more effective if they are run in conjunction with neighbouring land owners so we can target a bigger area of land."
Compliance staff recently increased their patrols in the Poona area after reports of wild dog activity in the village.
Reports of big cats in the hills and forests between Maryborough and Gympie have continued to resurface through generations.
There were even rumours of a 'Yengarie Lion'.
Old news clippings from the Chronicle reveal reporters believed they had obtained images of its skin.
The beast was said to be a cross between a dingo, border collie and fox.
It's stomach was reported to have contained half a poddy calf, 14 fowl's eggs, portions of wild birds, buck shot, leather and a chewed rope.
Former Tiaro mayor John Horrex has long been on a mission to silence the sceptics - even if his tales are rather extraordinary.
He claims the presence of a a Tasmanian-tiger like species in remote Australia was confirmed when he was at a hearing in Sydney in the 1980s.
"An engineer and the (council) CEO and I were attending a hearing in Sydney talking about development," he said.
"We were going up a lift with a parks officer and she showed us a poster showing all the endangered animals and I said 'where's the tiger cat'?"
Mr Horrex said once they exited the lift, he was pulled aside by the officer who asked about the tiger cat he mentioned.
"I told her I captured one in Deer Vale in 1954 on my uncle's property and it was a panther like creature, certainly not a native cat," he said.
"The officer said they don't publicise it because they don't want people going into the mountains to shoot them."
After the cat he captured was killed, Mr Horrex skinned the creature and he says it eventually became a decoration for his mother's living room until it mysteriously went missing.
He described the fur as being similar to a cow or horse with hairs "very tight and short".
In Woolooga, near Gundiah, a panther crossing sign has been set up roadside.
Whether it's a clever joke or a local taking their concerns to a new level, the professional sign reads 'Panthers cross here'.
A Department of Transport and Main Roads spokeswoman said they had no knowledge of the sign previous to the Chronicle's enquiry.
But the department clearly had fun providing a response.
"Although it's an almost purr-fect replica for one of our signs, we can't take credit for the panther crossing sign near Gympie," she said.
"We are not aware of any reported panther crossings in the area."
The spokeswoman said despite limited knowledge of big cats in the area, the conservation and protection of native fauna, including threatened and endangered species was very important.
"We install animal crossing signs across Queensland to warn drivers about wildlife including kangaroos, emus, wombats, koalas, cassowaries, brumbies and camels," she said.
Stray animals and feral animals should be reported to the council on 1300794929.