BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — A man who claimed he saw a puma in the Crestwood neighborhood of Birmingham is responding to CBS 42’s interview with Carole Baskin about the possible big cat sighting.
William Davis said in a post on Nextdoor in late September that he saw a puma at the Crestwood Shopping Center.
“I’m at True Story Brewing, and I just saw a black puma walking along [the] wall behind the Crestwood Shopping Center,” Davis said on the community website. “Huge!!! I wasn’t alone, witnessed by others as well. Watch your critters and children! Scary!”
CBS 42 interviewed Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue and a central figure on the hit Netflix show “Tiger King,” about the potential sighting last week. You can watch that full interview here.
Baskin said while it is possible the cat Davis saw was a puma (more commonly called a cougar in our area), most people who report such sightings are mistaking bobcats for other types of felines.
Davis said he’s not so sure.
“It wasn’t a bobcat,” Davis said. “I think Ms. Baskin is correct that many people mistake bobcats for other cats. I was raised on PBS and Marty Stouffer and Mutual of Omaha wildlife shows.”
Davis said that other life and career experiences make him feel confident that what he saw was not a bobcat.
“I also worked as cowboy and fly fishing guide while living in New Mexico mountains,” he said. “Lived in a small cabin with no electricity or running water. Occasionally, I’d see carcasses of mountain lion prey and hear them scream at night. I only saw one on one occasion, but I assure you I know what they look like, and what I saw…was not a bobcat.”
Retired wildlife biologist Mitchell Marks has written extensively about Alabama’s native cats for Outdoor Alabama.
“Alabama has two native cats. The first and largest is the mountain lion, also called a cougar, catamount, painter, puma or panther,” Marks wrote. “Cougars are tawny brown to grayish in color, weighing from 75 to 120 pounds, and can reach a length of about 6½ feet, nose to tail. The population, if it still exists, is scarce within the state. The bobcat is the other native cat found in Alabama. It is a much smaller cat with a short tail and spotted fur. Adult body weights normally range from 25 to 30 pounds. Despite its small size, it is a formidable predator. However, neither of these cats has a black or melanistic color phase.”