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Panther sightings in Winburn 'unlikely,' officials say

Officials say it is highly unlikely that there is a panther in the Winburn neighborhood, despite reported sightings by residents.

Lexington police have received two or three phone calls, and the Lexington Humane Society has received six to 12 calls from residents who said they saw a black panther in their neighborhood, Lexington police Lt. Doug Pape said.

Police notified the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources of the reported panther sightings. The department has not obtained any evidence of a panther in the neighborhood, department spokesman Mark Marraccini said.

"It's just unlikely that that's what's going on," Marraccini said. "Not impossible, but unlikely."

The department has asked residents to take pictures of the animal or its tracks so officials can investigate further, Marraccini said.

The department has received similar calls over the years regarding big cats on the loose, Marraccini said. Usually, the animal turns out to be a big house cat or a dog.

There are no large cats native to Kentucky. If the animal in Winburn turns out to be a panther, it probably would be part of an illegal commercial trade of wild cats, Marraccini said.

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