Panther plot thickens

The photograph that Jeff and Ruth Gulson took of the animal on their property. Photo: Jeff and Ruth GulsonLONG-time Eastgrove resident and avid history buff Kevin Shepherd says it’s no surprise panthers are being sighted around the district.

He maintained the Americans had panthers as mascots at the HMAS Albatross Naval Base near Nowra during the Second World War.

“After the war, when the Americans were departing, they released the panthers into the Shoalhaven gully, not far from the Base,” he said.

“That’s a true story and I reckon they’ve just bred up from there.”

He was speaking following Wednesday’s Goulburn Post report that local couple Jeff and Ruth Gulson had seen a panther-like animal from their Long St home last Sunday.

Some 30 to 40 years ago, Mr Shepherd said he visited Frederick Wells, who lived in the bush near Bungonia, on the edge of the Shoalhaven Gorge. Mr Wells told him that he’d found some strange manure he’d never seen before and sent it off to Taronga Zoo for analysis.

The experts couldn’t identify its origin but said it was from “some kind of wild animal.”

Terry Heatherington, manager at the Royal Australian Navy Air Arm Museum at HMAS Albatross Nowra, was unable to confirm or deny that panthers or pumas were kept as mascots by United States Service personnel stationed in Nowra during World War Two.

He said he was aware of the rumours having lived in the district for a considerable time but had seen nothing to support the suggestion that the service personnel had mascots or that they had been released into the bush at the end of the war.

He had heard of the reported sightings of large black cat like creatures in the Kangaroo Valley.

The Windellama newsletter in 2008 also detailed recent panther or puma sightings in the area.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.