Richmond teacher named national teacher of the year

HOLMBERG: A panther in the park along the James River?

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Could there be a mountain lion prowling the south bank of the James River in our downtown wilderness park?

"I was able to clearly see the animal," said noted adventure runner Daniel Rodriguez. "It was a big cat, kind of brown, dark brown color."

At sunrise Thursday he saw the creature with a tail as long as its body during his morning run.

"At first I thought, well, maybe it's just a deer. Because almost every morning when I run I see dear, lot of rabbits, foxes."

But as he approached, it it leapt off the dirt pile it was resting on and jumped into a small tree by the trail,where he got a good look at it before speeding up on his run.

Rodriguez knows most will be skeptical, but he has a biology background and feels pretty certain about what he saw.

Retired James River Park naturalist Ralph White was among those who came to the scene of the sighting to investigate.

He is quite doubtful.

"Is it within the realm of possibilities that one took a detour and followed the edge of the James and came through the city like the black bears do?

"It's anybody's guess," Ralph said. "But there is one thing that's important to note: If there were one, isn't this a great thing for our city?"

He said he did find some old paw prints that could fit the bill, but the rain made it impossible to draw any conclusions.

This would be so far out of their habitat, he said.

Not that the big cats don't stray into cities.

On Monday, a mountain lion that had been roaming in downtown San Mateo, Cal., was tranquilized and relocated.

Check out out video report, and keep your eyes open for paw prints in the park.

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