There can be virtually no one in Nevada County that does not know that the woods and grasslands in the area host a multitude of wild critters.
There can be virtually no one in Nevada County that does not know that the woods and grasslands in the area host a multitude of wild critters. The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture lists about 70 wild species in Arkansas, about 20 being classified as rare or “endangered.”
And, many residents can tick them off the most common species quickly: Deer, squirrel, turkey, red fox, field mice, rats, opossum, raccoon, moles, bats, bobcat, skunk and muskrat.
But there are more animals out there, lurking in the woods and grasslands, species that are seldom seen in certain parts of the state. While the elk and black bear populations are growing rapidly in north Arkansas, only the black bear has been spotted in Nevada County.
Susan Ellis, a resident of Highway 53 south of the Highway 73 cutoff, saw a small black bear by the side of the road.
Barton Purtle, resident on County Road 269 said, “I have seen game camera photos or black bear near the end of the Kale road. They are here, for sure.”
Purtle also has his share of woes with feral hogs. “I have eight acres that a herd of hogs have torn up so bad that I can’t do anything with it. If I disc it up, they smell the fresh dirt and tear it by by the next morning.”
Purtle also had a photo of a “Florida panther,” a smaller version of the western cougar, captured on one of his game camera. Many area residents viewed the footage before Purtle changed phones and lost the image.
Another area resident, C. Jason Smith, and a friend from Dallas, Meredith Piper Embry, were driving toward Bodcaw to visit Miracle Farms Market when they encountered … at first they were not for sure what it was.
Smith said he saw “A long, black tail go into a bunch of high weeds and flowers on the east side of the road. Then, this…it could only be a baby black panther…darted across the road.” Embry did not see the “mama,” but when “I saw the baby, I thought ‘Is that what I think it was?” She said she was “totally shocked. “Who would think that you’d see a black panther baby in Arkansas.”
A black panther was also reported cross Highway 73 just west of County Road 31.
Bobbie Smith, Jason’s Smith stepmother, was riding in the the car in front of Smith and Embry. “My husband was driving and saw the mama and hit the brakes and started screaming. I looked up but saw nothing, until his baby black panther with its tail hooked over its back came running across the road. I first thought it was a huge cat but it was all out of proportion with that long tail. Then I realized what it was. That was so exciting to see.”
Bobbie Smith’s dog, Bone, a Hungarian Vizsla, recently had an unfortunate encounter with a pack of coyotes. The dog, one of the fastest breeds in the world, was not fast enough to escape a brutal mauling by the pack.
Bone suffered more than 100 bites and tears, most to his back legs. He did escape and stayed hidden for two days until some children found him. After a visit to the vet resulting in a hefty bill, he is 100 percent again. “But, Smith said, “he does not wander far from the house these days. He spends a lot of time staring at at the woods and softly growling.”