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Rare, strange, and scary sighting in Fallbrook

Submitted by Jon Monday

On May 30 around 8 p.m. we noticed that our house cat was fixated on something outside. It was getting dark, but we were able to make out a large black cat. We live in a rural area between Bonsall and Fallbrook, bordering a nature preserve, but hadn’t seen a bobcat in several years. However, looking closer, we saw that it wasn’t a bobcat. It was much larger than a bobcat and a little smaller than a mountain lion, but with a thicker tail, short stocky legs, and was all black. There were several guests who also saw the cat and all agreed with the description.

After a few moments, it moved out of sight into the side yard. We Googled ‘black wildcat’ and ran across an article titled, “First documentation of melanism in the jaguar (Panthera onca) from northern Mexico.” Sightings of any jaguar in California are extremely rare.

We got very excited when we saw photographs of the Melanistic Jaguar as it is exactly what we saw. On some of the photos the jaguars were all black; on others they had darkened spots.

It turns out that a Melanistic Jaguar is a normal jaguar with a genetic anomaly – sort of the opposite of an albino. Research suggests that they are not prone to eat humans unless the cat is old and sick. Given the size of the jaguar, it seems to be of a type that is normally seen only in the Western Pacific Mexico area.

I’ve alerted several wildlife agencies with the hope that they will trap it and relocate it to a more rural area. Keep your eyes open.

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