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Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Black Pumas From Terry Colvin

Posted to my email from Longtime FOZ associate and "Dark puma" witness Terry Colvin:

I found this piece in Pursuit dealing mountain lions with melanism.


ps: Poor photocopy so there will be garble


In our October 1971 issue we yelled Help! on the
question of melanism in pumas (otherwise called
cougars. panthers. painters, mountain lions. and
heaven knows what else!). We cannot say that we
have been deluged with material. but we have received
quite Enough to indicate that melanism -the occurrence
of black pumas in an otherwise tawny-coloured 'race'-
is in flact quite widespread and is possibly increasing.
Member #210 promptly came through with two refer-
ences, noting that .. Stanley P. Young and Edward A.
Goldman's ~ (Dover Edition, 1964) mentions a
couple  of sources  black pumas. A specific case of
just such a cat having been killed in 1843 in the
carandahy River section of Brazil is cited. as well
as a vague reference to specimens of South American
pumas (black, of course) being taken 'from time to
time'. In Victor H. Cahalane's Mammals Qf North
Ameril~ (Macmillan Co., 1961) this great one-liner is
found on page 272: 'Melanistic or black cougars are
known; cougars of Florida seem to run strongly to
that "freak" color'."
Our major source of information, however, is Bruce
S. Wright, who is Director of the Northeastern Wild-
life  Station of the University of New Brunswick,
Fredericton. N.B. Mr. Wright has written one book
about pumas, entitled The Ghost  of  North America,
and is at work on a revised edition. He cites a book
by William Thomas. Great cats I Have Met; Adventures
ill Two  Hemispheres (Alpha Publishing Co .• Boston.
1896. p. 75-76), and in addition was kind enough to
send us a copy of a paper he presented at the 36th
North American Wildlife Conference in March, 1971,
the Symposium on the Native Cats of North America.
In this he devotes a section to melanism. as follows:
"No black specimen of Felis concolor has ever
been collected in North America [Unless you count Costa Rica],
 but one has been shot in Brazil (Young and Goldman. 1946, p. 58).
The repeated mention of black specimens seen in daylight
at close range demands some explanation. I once
believed they were caused by the specimens being
wet. To test this I went to Vancouver: Island and
followed a government cougar hunter until he killed a
large male. I took the fresh hide and suspended it by
its edges and filled it with water and left in overnight.
The next morning I photographed it in color from all
angles. I could not make it appear black.
"My next thought was that they must be backlighted.
However. a check on the position of the sun at the
time of these reports proved this theory ,untenable.
"I have now no alternative but to accept the word
of the eye-witness that there are black specimens of
Felis concolor in northeastern North America and that
they are not particularly rare (about 7% in New Bruns-
wick and Nova Scotia.)" '
Mr. Wright appends a table detailing no less than
20 black pumas seen at close range in daylight 'in
New Brunswick. Quebec, and Nova Scotia between
September 1. 1951 and August 2. 1970, and notes that
as many more were not included because the circum-
stances were such that positive 'identification' of
the color was impossible, though he adds "There is no
reasonable reason for disregarding these descriptions".
We also asked Lennie Rue -one of the~ very great
naturalists in this country; see National Wildlife and
International Wildlife for examples of his animal pho-
tography- if he had any references to black pumas.
Lennie has a truly incredible library 'on natural
history. with emphasis on North American mammals.
but could not come up with a single reference. On the '
other hand, he pointed out ~hat there is a claim from
Borneo for a black Clouded Leopard (Panther'a nubulosa)
believed by many to be extinct, and that there is even
a book called The Black Lion! We know of ~any albino
tigers; has anyone references on black ones? Black
leopards are quite common, and black jaguars are not
rare, though most seem to come from a fairly limited
area in the Guyana Massif. '
And, just for the record, one of our subscribers
tells us that some five years ago he talked with a
chap from El Salvador who stated calmly that he
occasionally hunted Bengal Tigers-"Tigres Bengalis"...
across the border in Honduras (not British :Honduras);
he said they had multiplied there since some escaped
years ago from a circus, so. if someone tells you he
hunted Bengal tigers in Honduras (provided you can
get into that country safely -and out again). he is
not necessarily a liar!

Terry W. Colvin
Ladphrao (Bangkok), Thailand
Pran Buri (Hua Hin), Thailand


Historical print of a dark-coloured puma, similar in most respects to to the more modern sightings,

[I probably DO need to reiterate, reports of known species do not qualify as subjects for Cryptozoology, whether you admit to the colour phase they  come in or not. or whether they seen are outside their normal range or not. And also I should mention that black jaguars are known to cross over the border of the US and Mexico occasionally.     -DD.]

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