Ozark Howler

The Ozark Howler is a cryptid from the folklore of the Ozarks,  a mountainous region covering parts of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

Natives claim the Ozark Howler prowls the remote mountainous woods of the region.

The people of the Ozarks have told tales and shared legends for generations. The mysterious Ozark Howler is one of the better-known cryptids from the area.


Descriptions of the Ozark Howler vary between narrators and between localities.

According to folklore, it resembles a bear. It has a shaggy dark-colored coat and a stocky or heavyset body.

The Ozark Howler is an agile beast with glowing red eyes

Some eyewitnesses described it as an agile beast with glowing red eyes.

Locals reported that it resembled big cats like the cougar or panther. They said it was a strange feline bigger than regular mountain lions and panthers.

Others claimed it looked like a large lynx or bobcat with ear tufts. Folkloric accounts sometimes describe it as a cat-like creature with well-developed ram-like or stag-like horns.

The alleged beast has a length of 4-5 feet and a tail about 12-14 inches long, making a total length of about 6 feet (George Eberhart, 2002).

Skeptics speculated it could be a big cat that escaped captivity and adapted to the forested mountains.

The Ozark Howler’s call

Residents of the Dardanelle region in the Arkansas River Valley reported a big cat that howls at night.

Some compared it to the “laughing” or “barking” call of the hyena. Others compared it to a wolf’s howl or an elk’s call (bugle).

Sightings and Tales

There have been reports of a medium-sized black feline creature roaming the Ozarks since the 1950s. Alleged sightings have come from many areas of the Ozarks.

Daniel Boone allegedly killed an Ozark Howler

Multiple sources said that the legendary American frontiersman and folk hero Daniel Boone (1734- 1820) made the first known reference to a creature that might have been the Ozark Howler in 1810. Some legends claimed that he tracked one down and killed it in 1816.

However, the first recent reports of the creature occurred in the 2000s when multiple residents of the Ozarks claimed sightings in the woods.

A family resident near Van Buren (Crawford Country), northwest Fort Smith, attempted to capture the beast on video using trail cams in the Boston Mountains (part of the Ozarks), Arkansas.

The camera appeared to show a cougar, but wildlife experts raised doubts, saying there was no breeding population of cougars in the wild in Arkansas.

However, they agreed there might be individual big cats kept as pets that escaped into the wild.

Reports about a big cat on the loose in the mountain woods also came from eastern Oklahoma. Alleged eyewitnesses described the creature as having a dark-colored coat.

Residents in the Dardanelle region of the Arkansas River Valley also reported sighting a big cat. In 2011, residents of Newton Country reported spotting big cats roaming the Ozarks.

Other alleged sightings occurred at Rollo ( July 2018) and Ginger Blue (July 2020) in Missouri.

An alleged sighting also occurred in December 2022 at Falcon, Missouri.

Ozark Howler sighting: Pump Station Springdale

In 2014, a resident reportedly called the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to report a strange creature in Benton County.

The resident said their vehicle nearly hit a strange animal on Pump Station Road, Springdale.

Ozark Howler photographic evidence?

In December 2015, a local station, 40/20 News, said one of their viewers sent photos allegedly showing the Ozark Howler. The person said they sighted the beast on the Yellow Rock Trail at Devils Den State Park.

The station sent the photos to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. After examining them, officials of the agency said they’d never seen or heard of the creature.

An expert said the Ozark Howler was like Bigfoot, an urban legend.

Media and TV

In July 2012, the SyFy Channel aired an episode of Haunted Highway that investigated reports of the Ozark Howler in Newton County.

The team left a bait and captured thermal images of animals prowling at night. They also obtained paw print casts.

Subsequent analysis showed that the thermal images were of a possum (opossum) or raccoon.

However, the paw print evidence proved more intriguing as expert analysis ruled out bobcats common to the area. The prints suggested big cats.


Skeptics and cryptozoologists have proposed multiple explanations for the legend.


Some researchers claim that the legend is a hoax created in the 1990s by someone who spread rumors about sightings using various pseudonyms across multiple forums and blogs.

Investigators identified the alleged individual as a University student. The person allegedly intended to fool cryptozoologists by inventing outlandish tales similar to chupacabra stories.

Big Cats

Many skeptics believe the legend may be due to people raising big cats as pets and letting them loose after they got too big.

Other proposals include an unidentified species or subspecies of big cats native to the region.

Some alleged eyewitness accounts suggested it was a bobcat (Lynx rufus) or a stray domestic cat (Felis catus).

Black Bear

Another candidate for the Ozark howler is the Black Bear (Ursus americanus). Black Bears are native to the Ozarks, and sightings are common.

Descriptions suggesting the howler is a bear-like animal could mean that some eyewitnesses mistook a black bear for a cryptid.

However, black bears don’t have horns.

The North American red wolf

The outdoor adventurist and TV show host Forrest Galante, best known for hosting Animal Planet’s Extinct or Alive, proposed that the Ozark Howler was the North American red wolf (Canis rufus).

Galante suggested the red wolf was the legendary creature in an episode of Mysterious Creatures. He might have believed that the howling behavior of the red wolf matched the Ozark Howler.

Experts now classify the red wolf as a separate species (Canis rufus). But in the past, there was debate over whether it was a subspecies of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Some thought it was the product of genetic mixing between coyotes and wolves (coywolf).

Red wolves previously inhabited the dense woods of the southeastern U.S. and south-central U.S. However aggressive hunting and habitat destruction nearly brought them to extinction.

They are considered an endangered species, and there have been recent efforts to restore their population.

Other Name/sHowler, Black Howler, Ozark Black Howler, Hoo-Hoo, Nightshade Bear, Devil Cat, Mountain howler, Night howler, Ozark black mystery cat
LocationUnited States, 
TypeBig Cat
HabitatCountryside, Forest


Mysterious Creatures: A Guide to Cryptozoology, Eberhart, George M. (2002).

Cryptozoology: Science & Speculation was written by Chad Arment (2004).

https://www.4029tv.com/article/ozark-howler-sighting-at-devils-den-game-fish-say-photos-are-a-hoax/4957812, “‘Ozark Howler’ sighting at Devils Den? Game & Fish say photos are a ‘hoax’,” accessed on March 17, 2023.

https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/ozarkhowler.html, “The Ozark Howler: Arkansas, Missouri & Oklahoma,” accessed on March 17, 2023.

https://www.news-leader.com/story/sports/outdoors/2015/12/15/johnson-do-you-believe-ozark-howler/77357078/, “Do you believe in the Ozark Howler?” by Wes Johnson, accessed on March 17, 2023.

https://www.endangeredwolfcenter.org/ozarkhowler/, “Forrest Galante: Ozark Howler,” accessed on March 17, 2023.

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