In 1998, Mr. Gary Mowad, a special agent for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and former Austin teacher, approached the Student Activities Director at Austin High School about a panther that had been seized. The case involved a big game guide in western Colorado who had been charged with three violations of federal law. The charges resulted from unlawful hunting practices that violated the principles of fair chase. This panther was killed at night with the aid of a spotlight in violation of Colorado law. The unethical hunter was convicted of the violation and was sentenced to four months incarceration.
After waiting several years for the court case to be settled, the panther was finally free of litigation in September of 2002. Since the panther was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a trucking firm had to be found to transport it to El Paso. This process took a year. On August 13, 2003, the beautiful 200 lb. Panther, which is mounted on rocks, finally arrived at Austin High School.
Six months later, housed in a new case, the Austin High School Alumni Association presented this spectacular animal to Austin High School. The presentation was made to Austin High School faculty, staff, students, and community on January 7, 2004. The dedication was broadcast live on KVIA News. The panther is currently on display in the main school entrance.
The Austin Alumni Association wishes to thank the following people for their help in getting the panther to Austin:
- Gary Mowad for remembering Austin High School.
- Special Agent Bill Anderson in Harrisburg, PA for helping to coordinate crating and shipping with Hill Rigging and Storage.
- Yellow Transporation Co. for delivering the panther to Austin undamaged.
- AHS Principal,Cheryll Felder, for her support and enthusiasm.
- Carl Davis, for donating his time and craftsmanship in the design and construction of the beautiful case that will protect our panther.