Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bike Biology: Stalking the Florida Panther

One of the thrills of cycling is catching rare glimpses of nature. This past weekend, I came upon what I believe to be a small panther carcass at the edge of the road near Gainesville.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me. Thus, my sighting will forever remain an unidentified furry object (UFO).

But the incident led me to wonder about the possibility of such a sighting. The naturalist in the first video is convinced that there are panthers in Alachua County, Florida, where we were.

One more consideration: later in the day while on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, I heard a strange animal sound, causing me to look in the direction of emanation. In retrospect, after watching the same video, I wonder if it were a female panther. I think it could have been.

The second video describes the loss of natural habitat for panthers in south Florida.


Charles Lathe said...

Hello Dean,

Last May, on the Audax Atlanta 600K, I was on my way back up Cheaha in the Taladaga mountain range, when a big animal crossed the road just in front of me. It was pre-dawn and I was enjoying listening to the whip-poor-wills when it happened. The animal had the long tail of a big cat. I think a sight like that stays with your forever. I can picture that shadowy form with the long cat tail perfectly.

I checked and mountain lions evidently don't live in Alabama, but they are seen passing through from time to time. Traveling almost silently through remote areas at night, we randonneurs seem more likely to make these sightings than most people.

Late in the afternoon on a brevet in Washington State, I noted a very big dog trotting along the road edge. When it turned to cross the road, I saw its belly and realized it was a black bear. He dove into the thick brush of a swampy area as I approached; much to my relief.

Regards, Chuck Lathe
Franklinville, NC

dean furbish said...

I owe you one, Charles, for bailing me out a year ago on Tony's Groundhog Day brevet---spotting the two camels.

My riding "buddies" were ready to throw me overboard. They claimed that I must have been hallucinating. That may well be. But the fact remains that you claimed to have seen the camels, too.

It always helps to have a camera handy. It makes one's "stories" more believable, like the following sighting of a black bear last year in a north Raleigh neighborhood.

I mention this, because I believe I had a black bear experience a couple years ago just off US Bike Route 1 north of Wilton.

At first, I thought it was a huge dog, but with disproportionately thick limbs. It turned to look at me, and I kept pedalling! Dog or bear, I was gone!

Every time I do the Kerr Lake Loop Permanent, I continue to look for "my" bear.