Gardaí called in the National Parks and Wildlife Service yesterday morning after receiving a report of a large black cat roaming Glenseskin Wood, near Kilworth.
A Garda spokesman said the sighting was made by a man, who he described as “a reliable individual”.
According to gardaí, the man was walking in the woods yesterday when he saw the creature.
The Wildlife Service’s district officer, Cyril Saich, confirmed he was investigating the reported sighting.
“We are keeping an open mind on this. We have had no reports of any big cats escaping, or missing. But that’s not to say somebody didn’t bring one into the country illegally and it either escaped or they let it go,” said Mr Saich.
There was another unconfirmed sighting of a large black cat near Mount Melleray, on the Knockmealdown Mountains in Co Waterford, just before Christmas.
If it was a panther it is possible it moved off the mountain during the recent cold spell and crossed into north Cork.
Mr Saich said if such a cat exists it would hunt rabbits and would be capable of bringing down bigger prey.
“We don’t want to be alarming people. But if it is out there it could be dangerous if it gets hungry,” he said.
If the panther is spotted by wildlife officers, Mr Saich said they would do their best to capture it alive, either by using a tranquilliser gun or a trap.