Monday, June 24, 2013

Leopard shot and killed in Clark County, Ind.

Two Indiana residents got the surprise of their lives Thursday night when the "bobcat" they shot turned out to be something quite different. Indiana wildlife officials say it was a leopard.

On Friday morning, WDRB News was contacted by Donna Duke, who claimed to have photographs of a leopard that was shot at a home on State Road 3, just outside of Charlestown in Clark County, Ind.

Duke spoke with WDRB News by phone. She says her friend lives in that area, which had seen a number of attacks against dogs and cats recently. Duke's friend has a number of cats and was worried about their safety.

Duke says her friend contacted a local wildlife official, who initially thought the attacks might have been committed by a bobcat. He told her to keep a sharp eye out for bobcats at night.

Duke says her friend told her that she and her boyfriend took turns watching the area from the roof every night. "She was trying to protect her babies," Duke said.

Sometime late Thursday night or early Friday morning, Duke says her friend was outside near her pool, when she saw a dark shadow pacing back and forth nearby. That's when, Duke says, her friend's boyfriend grabbed a gun and shot it. 

Duke says her friend heard a "horrible squeal" and they ran to see what it was. " But it was not a bobcat," Duke said.

What they claim to have found was the feline shown in the above pictures. Duke says an Indiana Department of Natural Resources officer was contacted and immediately transported the body to Indianapolis for analysis.

On Friday morning, WDRB News contacted Phil Bloom, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"The cat in these photographs has been identified tentatively as a leopard," Bloom said. "Perhaps an immature cat about 9 months old. DNR is attempting to determine who it belonged to or where it came from."

"In any case, it would be someone's pet, since leopards are not native to Indiana, or for that matter, to North America." Bloom says it is legal to own big cats in Indiana, but it requires a permit.

Ironically, there is a wildlife refuge about a mile from where the cat was found. WDRB interviewed the owner of Wildlife In Need, Inc., Tim Stark, and he says the leopard was not his.

Stark is required by law to report if any of his animals get loose. He says he's never had any animals escape his property. Indiana officials are investigating to find out where the animal came from.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) has released the following statement regarding the case: 

"This leopard was yet another victim of a horrible reality in the U.S., where keeping big cats as pets is generally legal," said Tracy Coppola, IFAW Campaigns Officer. "Nothing good comes from keeping a big cat as a pet, and this needs to stop. If it doesn't, more communities, more sanctuaries, and more first responders will continue to bear a dangerous burden."

"We need a national solution, and this is why IFAW is asking citizens to contact their Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act (H.R. 1998) today."

Sources: WDRB and PRNewswire
Photos by Donna Duke

1 comment:

  1. Shame that it had to be killed but some times there is no choice ,I bet it was released because the owner couldn't manage it any more