Dwight Ward contacted me by email with his story of the sighting of a melanistic (black) mountain lion in Utah while he was hiking across the country. It was back in 1972. I think his story is worth publishing here because it’s a rare one. For those who are interested, I have a page on black mountain lions which you can read by clicking on the following link: Black Mountain Lion
When I wrote the page, I couldn’t illustrate it with a picture of a black mountain lion because I couldn’t find one. So, I created one through photo editing. The picture above is not it because I am now able to rely on DALL-E an AI computer which I think has done a very nice job. This is not a photograph taken by Mr Ward.
My witness statement of interacting with a black mountain lion is unverifiable also, since I took no pictures and I was the sole witness (other than my dog). Here it is.
In 1972 I was hitchhiking across the country, with a backpack that had everything I would need no matter where I was dropped off from a ride. I was hitchhiking west with my dog Lady, a shepherd mix. We were let off towards evening on interstate 70 in Utah, miles from anywhere. I decided to call it a day and walked off the road into a grassy field until I came up to a chain link fence. We were perhaps 200 feet from the highway. We settled down for the night, I in my sleeping bag and Lady pressed up against me.
Sometime in the early hours something woke me. I unzipped my bag enough to sit up. Looking around I saw a large black cat perched on top of the chain link fence intently staring at my dog. There was enough light for me to tell the animal was really black and not merely dark in the darkness, if I may phrase it that way. It was not directly over us but almost so. It wasn’t alarmed by my sitting up and calmly laid along the fence slowly moving its tail from side to side.
I nudged Lady to wake her. She merely groaned in her sleep and didn’t stir. I reached inside my bag for a bayonet I carried at that time when hitchhiking. The cat then raised herself up and casually dropped into the grass on the other side of the fence. The grass was high enough to hide her from sight but I could follow her path away from us by its movement as she trotted away. Then she was gone. At this point Lady woke up. She sniffed the air and sprang up, running back and forth along the fence and smelling whatever had been there, growling. I had to laugh to myself about my great guard dog.
People out west to whom I told this story informed me that mountain lions did not come in black and I stopped talking about the experience. Now I learn from your site that the hotter their home territory is, the darker the animal may be and that is the reason for this email. The cat was black, no two ways about it.
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