Term used interchangeably for the BLACK Dog, Eastern Puma, or Maned American Lion in the United States, as well as small-game animals popular with hunters.

Etymology: Southern U.S. variant form of vermin, used for such undesirable animals as coyotes, woodchucks, or other small game.

Physical description: Various forms of large dogs or cats, often black.

Tracks: Five toes, unlike a big cat, which has four.

Distribution: Throughout the United States, primarily in sparsely populated areas.

Significant sightings: On August 7, 1948, Arthur and Howard Turner were walking by their farmhouse near Richmond, Indiana, when they saw two animals, one like a maned lion, the other like a black panther. For the next two days, other people saw the pair in the area. Police found tracks made by a five-toed animal estimated to weigh 300 pounds.

Sources: Richmond (Ind.) P-'alladium-Item and Sun Telegram, from July 29 to September 5, 1948; Predator Defense Institute, "Varmint Hunting," htm.

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