"With residents reporting near daily sightings, you'd think we were under attack," one man stated.

Truth is, the myth of the black panther in Louisiana - and throughout the United States - has a long phantom existence, according to physiologists and biologists.

Maria Davidson, the large carnivore program manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, calmly explained that the only black panthers in existence are black jaguars found in South America and black leopards that live in Asia and Africa.

The North American black panther generally falls under the term "cryptid," a creature whose existence has been suggested but is not recognized by the scientific community and has been deemed highly unlikely. Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster fall under that category.

They also have been called "phantom cats," "alien big cats" (ABCs), and in certain circles, the sightings have been dubbed "panther paranoia."

And while some people, including local law enforcement officials, discuss the possibility of a black cougar in our midst, Davidson assuredly said black cougars do not exist at all. They come only in tawny and fawn colors, ranging from light gray-brown to a brownish orange.

In fact, she said, Louisiana does not have a breeding population of cougars - in any color - and that the last cougar found in the state was in 2009 and that animal was genetically linked to a population in New Mexico.

Last month, two panther sightings were reported, one in St. Tammany Parish and one in Plaquemines Parish. A few days earlier, a man in St. Bernard Parish said he and his wife saw one sitting a block from their garage, staring at them calmly, before darting into nearby woods.

So, if you're ever in Louisiana for some good ole' deep southern cuisine, be sure to have your camera handy in case you happen to have any unexpected visitors show up.