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Archive for the ‘out of place animals’ Category

black leopard

Besides sightings of Eastern cougars and the errant bengals and leopard cats, I have two accounts of large cats. Both of these come from grandfathers, whose work required him to spend long days in a very remote part of West Virginia.

The first of these involved an animal that I feel is more or less a black leopard. In the late 70’s, he was driving down a well-tending road, when a large black shape appeared on the side of the road. He thought it was a dog, but as his truck approached the animal leaped across the road. He describes it as a cat, just a bit larger than a Labrador. He says it was black in color, and its tail was almost half as long as the cat itself. He also says it was rather stockily built but quite agile, for it moved very quick across the road up into a steep hillside that was densely covered in brush. As he drove by and looked up the hillside, he could not see the cat, so it must have been able to find some dense cover on the hillside or had already left the vicinity.

The second cat story is one I remember, for I was a small boy when he came home to tell me what he’d seen. He had been hunting on an isolated ridge that also had a small herd of beef cattle grazing on it. The owner of the property had allowed him to use this land as a hunting ground, but there were no other people around.

Now, he knew that a Norwegian elkhound lived at a house just below the ridge. It was a light gray one with a very thick coat. He knew the dog to be quite friendly, and he often petted and played with it when it came around.

Well, on that particularly day, my grandpa was sitting in his turkey blind, which overlooked a clearing in the forest. About a hundred yards beyond the clearing was an open pasture, where the cows with calves were grazed. On the other side of the clearing was maturing forest with rather thick undergrowth.

As he sat in the turkey blind, he saw something gray moving through the undergrowth. He thought the elkhound had wandered up, and as soon as the dog caught scent of him, the hunt would be over. However as the animal aproach the clearing, he noticed that it wasn’t moving anthing like a dog, and it lacked the elkhound’s curled tail. It also had rather unusual ears, but he couldn’t make out what exactly was so strange about its ears.

When the animal entered the clearing, the animal that appeared before him looked a lot like a bobcat. He had seen bobcats in the forest before, but this one was strange. It was about as tall as a Norwegian elkhound, but it was covered in silvery gray hair. Its ears had more pronounced tufts.

He had heard of this animal before, but he had only seen them in photographs and in old trapping manuals. As far as he knew, this animal was found only in Canada, northern New England, and the Rockies. He told me that he had seen a Canada lynx.

Canada lynx

Now, neither of these animals is native to West Virginia, although the Canada lynx is native to North America. Both of these animals were most likely former pets that either escaped or were released into the wild. This very rural part of West Virginia was a dumping ground for exotic pets. It was in this same area that he came across a spider monkey and his friends often caught squirrel monkeys.  No one else saw the leopard again, but the lynx was seen by several different people over a period of two years.

Canada lynx can hybridize with bobcats and produce fertile offspring, so maybe we have some bobcats around here with some lynx in them. I do know that some bobcats were killed in Maine that were lynx hybrids.

So those are the two accounts of unusual cats I’ve been able to catalogue from my grandfather. Just imagine what other cats have been spotted by other people whose work required them to spend long hours in remote forests in West Virginia.

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crocodile

A crocodile has been spotted in a pond near the village of Xertigny in the Vosges region of France. Now, a crocodile has no place in the Vosges region, so it is either an escaped pet or zoo animal. Or an common animal that has been misidentified.

In true crocodile hunter style, the local authorities have placed a chicken near the pond to see entice the saurian from its depths.

Lacking any other option, some in the village want the pond drained, which, of course, is the nuclear option.

My guess is that someone has come across a large carp or pike. That’s also what the local anglers are saying.

I have seen very large carp in ponds, and they do look a bit like alligators.

Now, I’ve never been in an area where one could see both pike or alligators, but I cand see where someone could mistake a pike for a crocodilian.

It could be a pet caiman that has been released. Heck, we have a population of spectacled caimans in Florida that was founded by escaped pets.

This story does have my curiosity piqued, so stay tuned.

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