Watch: N.C. trail camera photo sparks fears of tiger on the loose

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- Authorities in North Carolina are investigating a grainy trail camera photo that some observers said appears to show a tiger on the loose.

Rowan County Sheriff Travis Allen said an investigation is ongoing into the identity of the animal snapped by the trail camera in a wooded area of Rockwell County.

Rowan Animal Services Director Maria Pannell said all large cat owners in the area were contacted as a precaution and all registered tigers were accounted for.

"We're hoping that this may be a tabby cat that someone has caught on camera. We haven't confirmed that yet, but we're looking into that. We've got officers in the area checking out everything," Pannell told WBTV.

The Tiger World Wildlife Sanctuary in Rockwell confirmed on social media that all of its tigers are accounted for at the facility. The post said sanctuary staff have offered to assist authorities, but they also questioned whether the animal in the photo was as large as it seems.

"Without size reference, it could be a domestic tabby cat," the post said.

Pannell said no evidence has been found of big cat activity in the area where the photo was taken.

"We still have not seen any signs of a tiger on the loose," Pannell said. "Several of our officers drove the area and walked the wooded area where the cat was reported to be seen. So far they have seen zero evidence of a tiger or anything this large on the loose."