I've been alive for 35 going on 36 years and I've seen a total of 5 bobcats in my lifetime. 3 were in the wild and 2 of them were shot dead by local hunters. I've only seen 3 not shot bears. My mom swears she has seen a panther down the road from our house. She said it without doubt because she said it had a super long looking tail. Believe it or not I've known my mom all my life ( snickers) and shes also not one to make crap up. Now there are still coyotes in NC but I've never seen one except for shot ones and I've spent most of my life outdoors hunting and fishing.
A guy in Bladen County had some domesticated geese but something was decimating his flock. He thought it may be a bobcat or coyotes so he hid outside one morning after he had lost geese 2 outta 5 days. He said he was shocked when he saw a panther come down to the pond. He said he wanted to shoot it but feared its status so he just busted a round into the air to run it off. This was an elderly gentleman not the type to carry phones around snapping pics. Since then he said he's trying to get a picture but has not had any luck nor lost anymore geese. He tried calling and reporting the incident but was told they were extinct and he must have been mistaken.
Having said all that who knows maybe my mother and the guy I know in Bladen were both wrong maybe not. I don't say that I believe they still exist but I believe its entirely possible.