Saturday, January 17, 2015

State officials say large feline in Leicester was a #bobcat

A resident on Pine Street took a picture of what “certainly seems like a mountain lion,” an official said.
Leicester Animal Control
A resident on Pine Street took a picture of what “certainly seems like a mountain lion,” an official said.

An animal spotted in Leicester Thursday was a bobcat, state officials said, not a mountain lion as some residents and town officials had thought. A Pine Street resident had snapped a picture of the animal near her home and sent it to the town’s animal control officer, Patricia Dykas, who said Friday it “certainly seems like a mountain lion.”

But biologists from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife determined it was a bobcat based on its apparent size, general profile, and the height and length ratio of the animal’s body, Marion Larson, an agency spokeswoman, said later Friday. A bobcat is smaller than a mountain lion.

Past reports of mountain lions in Massachusetts have turned out to be sightings of house cats, bobcats, coyotes, or dogs, the agency said in a statement. The only known East Coast habitat of the mountain lion is in Florida, the agency said. Dykas said Leicester residents have reported sightings of large cats for years.

The photo taken by the resident shows an animal that is “clearly bigger than a bobcat,” Dykas said in a telephone interview before the state’s announcement. Dykas advised residents to keep their cats and dogs inside, and to protect any livestock on their property. Leicester is in Central Massachusetts, just west of Worcester.

In February and March of last year, Winchester residents said they saw a large feline prowling in residential areas. When Winchester police sent pictures of the animal’s paw prints to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, they were told the prints belonged to a canine. However, a Connecticut-based organization called Cougars of the Valley said the Winchester tracks were consistent with those of a large feline.


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