1948 Panther Scare

Panther, Wolf, or Myth?


Joe Ganger


Colon Express, February 12, 1948: This panther story, which has going the rounds for several months, is proving to be more than a myth. One night last week, as the Yoder boys, aged 27 and 21 years were returning to their home a mile west of town, a large animal came out of the cornfield and started circling them. They say it was twice the size of a dog and had a long lashing tail. They ran back to the Arthur Snyder porch, and Mr. Snyder came to their rescue, and the object, whatever it was, ran back down the road. Conservation Officer Robert Straube was called, heard the boy’s story, which was verified by Mr. Snyder, and found the four-inch tracks. This experience proved to officer Straube that some wild animal was on the prowl in this territory and he took up the trail. He has trailed the animal over a lot of territory and hopes to get sight of it some of these days. Straube says it is too big to get through a fence; that it follows the fence line to a corner or hurdles the gate, and the four-inch tracks are very plain at these points. There’s a good story when they catch up with the roamer from the wilderness. It might be the mate to that wolf they killed over by Battle Creek.” February 19: “The wild animal scare which has kept a lot of people in the anxious seat for months is simmering down to the point where it is a wolf instead of a panther that is roaming this territory. While Arthur Moyer and Melvin Seitler were cutting wood at the Homer Fenner farm west of town Saturday afternoon, they saw the animal loping along down the road. Their first thought was that it was a big dog. As it came within a few rods of them the men could get a good look and are positive it is a wolf. They went to their car to get a gun and they trailed it until it went into the woods near Farrand Bridge. Others have seen the animal at a distance, in fact it came out onto the ice and fisherman saw it up in the “tamaracks” on Palmer Lake. Conservation Officer Straube hopes to have some trained “wolf-hounds” down from Lansing to track the thing down.” February 26: “State trapper William Hammel, who is in charge of this district, was here Tuesday working with the Conservation Officer Robert Straube, attempting to track or get sight of the wolf or strange animal which as been on the prowl along the river bottom. They failed to get sight of the animal. Officer Hummel has been working with drain commissioner Roy Bell, trapping beaver in several streams in the county and has been successful in taking a dozen or more. Officer Straube says there is a good sportsman’s program on WKZO every morning at 8:30.” March 4: “That strange animal wolf or whatever, it may be, still haunts this neighborhood. Monday night it made a tour around the east outskirts of town, prowling around the Bailey residence, where the track was picked up and trailed over quite a territory, without catching up with it. With all the hunters in this town it would seem that they could “gang up” on this mysterious prowler, the hunters would all get their guns out. The animal was seen my Mr. & Mrs. Chauncey Walker and son west of town Monday night as they were driving near the Ed West Home.”  I found no more articles on the critter….