Family suspects panther of chicken slaughter - FOX10 News | WALA

Family suspects panther of chicken slaughter

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BAY MINETTE, AL (WALA) -

A Baldwin County family said they have a big cat problem. In the last week they said a large cat they believe to be a panther has killed 74 chickens and has them pretty shaken up.

It is a controversial topic though. On one hand there's a family that's convinced a panther or cougar has been killing their chickens, but state biologists said there is no documented evidence of a breeding population anywhere in Alabama.

One thing is certain. Whatever has been breaking into the hen house, has killed dozens of chickens since last Thursday and just leaves them for dead.

Brandon Greek is at his wits end after the losses. He said he and his aunt, who's seen the suspect, already knows what's been terrorizing his flock, whether state biologists want to believe it or not.

“She's got pictures of the panther what showed up in the back of the field and we've seen him up here too, but we can't get no shot at him. He's so quick,” Greek said.

He said his aunt and niece first had an encounter with the big cat in 2011. Then he said it showed back up this January after the land around his Pine Grove home was clear-cut of timber.

“Most undoubtedly they got the den where he was staying or where they was staying,” Greek speculated. “We have no woods around at all no more and all the deer and everything's left and he feeds on rabbits and all, but there's nothing left here. Everything's moved to wherever the timber is except for my chickens.”

Last Thursday morning, April 16, 2015 Greek said about 40 chickens were attacked. After another attack a week later, Greek was left with only one full grown chicken. A walk down the sandy road that leads away from the chicken coop were some suspicious footprints that Greek and his family believe belong to a panther.

“It's a real big cat and then it looks like he bears off through here and goes through here,” Greek said as he pointed to the clear-cut.

In an effort to confirm Greeks suspicions, Fox 10 News placed two game cameras around the chicken coop. One was set up outside on video mode. The second was set up inside looking back at the doorway. The hope is to get evidence of whatever is killing the chickens.

Greek doesn't want to get any more chickens right now for the fear of losing them too. He's also afraid of what the alternative might be.

“I'm scared. We can't even come in the yard because it's going to get us. I have to look for my son plus me and I live with my grandma and we don't want nobody outside because we're scared it's going to be out in a tree or somewhere where we can't see it and then it'll be jumped on us,” Greek said.

There was one sign of hope that turned up by the end of the day. A second chicken was found hiding between the coop fence and a piece of tin. She was battered and bruised a bit, but survived the traumatic event none-the-less.

Biologists with the Alabama Department of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries stress that it is illegal to shoot any panther or cougar in the state of Alabama. They also said there are no black panthers native to the U.S. They would just be darker versions of our native cougars.

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