Over the last couple of years, I've written several stories about possible mountain lion sightings throughout New Jersey.

The reports have been from around the state - these stories can be found here.

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State Wildlife Officials will tell us, "There are no mountain lions in New Jersey" - but more and more people are challenging that statement thanks to their eyewitness accounts. (Could some of these animals be escapees from someone's private collection?)

Now comes an eyewitness account of not a mountain lion - put a panther. The animals are very similar.

Earlier this year, there were reported sightings of a black panther in the Hamilton Township/Weymouth area. Police even shared a story about the sightings, but found them to be "unsubstantiated."

While I continue to get more and more witnesses to come forward about mountain lions, I've received a report about a black panther in the Mays Landing/Hamilton Township area.

J.D. says it was this past July when she and her husband encountered an animal while driving on the Black Horse Pike:

"My husband and I were traveling west on the Black Horse Pike in Mays Landing Hamilton Township about approximately 6 PM when immediately in front of us was an animal that leaped maybe only twice and cleared four lanes of traffic into the woods, never glancing or turning its head either way. We both noticed different characteristics and immediately said, 'What the hell do you think that was??'   It just missed a man riding his bicycle on the shoulder of the Pike. When I looked in my rearview mirror, I remember seeing the gentleman staring off into the woods, like... 'What was that?'"

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J.D. says the sighting has been talked about between her and her husband since it's happened. "It was not a dog!  It was very tall. I immediately noticed a very long tail almost to the ground and when I glanced, I saw the back of its head and it had short, pointy ears."

She says she wanted to report the incident to police, but she remembered the similar stories being rebuked by police earlier in the year.  "I immediately noticed the fact that it did not run like a dog, coyote, or wolf.  Both front paws moved at the same plus it leaped across the Black Horse Pike ( 4 lanes of traffic and a concrete median) and it never even glanced to its side to see the oncoming traffic. That mannerism did not seem like any loose dog, running the streets, even one that was used to crossing."

Thanks to J.D. for writing. If you had a similar encounter, I welcome your email: joe.kelly@townsquaremedia.com.

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