Monday, December 15, 2008

Big Pussy Wreaks Havoc In Puerto Rico

Ponce, Puerto Rico / La Guancha recreation areaImage by Oquendo via Flickr

Big cat stalks San Juan suburbs

The Associated Press

December 15, 2008

SAN JUAN, Puerto RicoReports of slaughtered farm animals and shadowy figures in darkened yards have Puerto Rican authorities hunting for what they think is an exotic jungle cat prowling the wooded fringes of the island.

Wildlife officials patrolled streets and undeveloped lots on Sunday, searching for a nocturnal predator that has mauled a sheep, ripped apart chickens and dominated newspaper headlines since last week.

The beast, described by witnesses as a black panther, has dodged marksmen, motion-sensitive cameras and traps, including one baited with a live goat, according to Natural Resources Secretary Javier Velez Arocho.

Ten sightings were reported of a 4-foot-long cat stalking a stretch of Rio Piedras, a San Juan suburb that is home to a 21,000-student university campus, Velez said.

He urged residents to keep an eye on their children and look to defend themselves if they encountered a big cat.

"We would use guns to kill this animal only as a last resort," Velez said. It is illegal to own nonnative predators such as jungle cats in Puerto Rico.

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