MYSTERY MONDAY: Panther Sightings Cross Mississippi - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

"It sounds like a woman screaming," Dan Wilkes said on a rainy day in Rosewood.

MYSTERY MONDAY: Panther Sightings Cross Mississippi

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Ricky Brown's trail cam caught this image of an animal outside of Vicksburg. Some have said it is a panther. Ricky Brown's trail cam caught this image of an animal outside of Vicksburg. Some have said it is a panther.
Ricky Brown said he is not letting his children down to his mudding hole in Warren County for the time being. He says he fearful that a panther is crossing through his land. Ricky Brown said he is not letting his children down to his mudding hole in Warren County for the time being. He says he fearful that a panther is crossing through his land.
Dan Wilkes says he saw a panther 15 years ago along a treeline in Rosewood. The MDWFP reports there is no evidence that panthers exist in the state. Dan Wilkes says he saw a panther 15 years ago along a treeline in Rosewood. The MDWFP reports there is no evidence that panthers exist in the state.
Dan Wilkes says it's generally accepted that "big cats" exist in wooded areas across the state. The MDWFP does not recognize that panthers live in the state. Dan Wilkes says it's generally accepted that "big cats" exist in wooded areas across the state. The MDWFP does not recognize that panthers live in the state.

Thousands of stories. Thousands of supposed sightings. Do big cats, specifically panthers, stalk the forests of Mississippi?

State officials say there is not enough evidence to support whatever that whatever-they-are actually exist.

In this MYSTERY MONDAY, Jacob Kittilstad goes on the hunt for answers when it comes to big cats.

Click here to watch last week's MYSTERY MONDAY: Ghosts of Stuckey's Bridge Haunt Lauderdale County

Some people have seen tracks in the mud. Others swear their animals have been spooked.

But most common encounter are with the calls.

"It sounds like a woman screaming," Dan Wilkes said on a rainy day in Rosewood.

Wilkes says he's a believer. He says he saw a panther with brown coloring in Warren County about 15 years ago.

He estimates it's body was five feet long with a tail adding another four feet to its length.

"Big cat. At first I thought it was a deer. And Then I got a better look at it as it was running down the treeline," Wilkes said.

"I was sitting in a combine and had a good vantage point and this big cat, probably 50 yards from us, took off and ran to our left. It stretched out," Wilkes said.

Ricky Hall, who lives right outside of Vicksburg, has a photo of an animal that was captured on his trail cam. It shows a large cat in broad daylight walking around a mudding hole.

"We got a farmer across the street there. He's got cows out there. And the way the picture's showing from where it's set up it's like it's coming from that way," Wilkes said

"It's pretty good size. It's bigger than a dog. It's got some big feet, little short pointed ears. And it looks like its tail's got a few stripes on it," Wilkes said.

"But it's dark," Wilkes said.

But the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) has a different view.

A statement from Jim Walker, an agency spokesperson, says "...most physical evidence sent to the MDWFP is later identified as remains of large feral cats or other animals. Our biologists have not confirmed any panthers or cougars are in Mississippi"."

Despite the state's stance, Brown says the picture still has him nervous.

"They said they'll attack so I wouldn't let my kids go back down there," Brown said

Wilkes also disagrees. Although his sighting was 15 years ago he says he will never forget what was before his eyes.

"At first I'm like 'Wow, this is what I'm seeing'. You know, it's not a deer. It's not a bobcat. You go through the list mentally and within the first half-second. And you know without a doubt it's a large cat," Wilkes said.

"Everybody accepts it. Everybody knows it. Especially in the Northeastern part of Warren County. Deeper in the woods, so to speak," Wilkes said.

If you'd like to share your sightings or have other ideas for MYSTERY MONDAY email mystery@wjtv.com or call Jacob Kittilstad at 601-664-8839.

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