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DEC Chasing Reports of Possible Jaguar on the Prowl in East Hampton

Officers searched the woods around an East Hampton farm on Sunday after a supposed spotting.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation is investigating several reports of an exotic cat, like a jaguar, on the loose in East Hampton.

Environmental Control Officers were called out to a farm at 56 Spring Close Lane on Sunday morning, after Matthew Lester spotted "a greyish cat-like creature about 5-feet long, 2-feet high at the shoulder with a long striped tail eating composting vegetables and meat scraps," according to Bill Fonda, a spokesman for the DEC. 

The animal fled quickly into the brush upon the caller's arrival at about 11 a.m., Fonda said. Officers found tracks in the area, though they couldn't identify the animal that left them. One of the tracks did appear to belong to a large animal. Photographs have been forwarded to the DEC's wildlife unit for further examination. 

No further evidence, such as hair, was found in the area, Fonda said.

They plan on installing a camera on the trail near the farm, leased by Pantigo Farm Co. and owned by Mike Bistrian.

As of right now, Fonda said, "There's not sufficient evidence of a cougar, panther, jaguar or similar exotic creature."

He said the East Hampton Town police and two ECO officers responded after receiving the report, but that the DEC was already looking into previous reports of a jaguar in the area of Skimphampton Road and Further Lane in East Hampton. 

The DEC has no record of there being a special license for jaguar, or another exotic cat on the East End, which is allowed for educational purposes, Fonda said, adding the first order of business was to check if one that belonged to someone had become loose. "Potentially people have an illegal one," he said. 

Fonda said he spoke to an ECO captain, who remembers about six similar reports during the course of his 30-year career. "They never really bare out," Fonda said, adding that they could recall none that had. "Usually it winds up being dogs or cats." 

Correction: The report of the cat-like creature was initially made on Sunday, not Monday. The DEC regrets the error.

Have you ever seen such an animal around East Hampton? Heard such stories? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

Local family September 12, 2012 at 01:52 AM
I agree with you Gail. Kinda scary.
Evan Rofheart September 12, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Gail, I have no idea why she was eating from a compost heap... I don't think she was ... she was probably just looking for something.
tito September 12, 2012 at 01:55 AM
This is one persons/witness account leading to the use of taxpayers money to track this creature. I do side with caution but will not drown in fiction. We all must have much more time on our hands to comment this many times.
Walter Noller September 12, 2012 at 02:41 AM
Yeah, he's right... Come one, guys, let's go watch some reruns or friend someone we don't really know on facebook.
Nanci e. LaGarenne September 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM
Call Diego! He will find baby jaguar's mommy.
lutheranliar September 12, 2012 at 11:49 AM
Has anybody contacted Larry Penny? I trust him with stuff lime this.
Preliator September 12, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Why, so he can stuff it in his basement for the next 20 years? Let the professionals handle this and besides, it is probably just a big wild dog.
william September 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
Perhaps the fish smell is attracting the real thing.
Patrice Dalton September 12, 2012 at 12:46 PM
Taylor, Larry Penny may be able to share the history of large cat sightings in this area.
Walter Noller September 12, 2012 at 01:30 PM
In another story..."Karen A. Barnes, 54, of East Hampton, and Michael A. Papetti, 22, of East Hampton, were arrested on drug charges after a traffic stop"... Is this the type of "cougar" they're looking for?
Alky Styles September 12, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Another Plum Island Escapee?...first it was the Montauk Monster. Now let's see if this is actually a Jaguar or another wingless Gryphon.
Gail Simons September 12, 2012 at 01:57 PM
That's a relief. Because feline's don't normally go for vegetables, being carnivores and all... I'd hate to think she was that desperate.
stella September 12, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Bobcat? Prints look the same.
Alky Styles September 12, 2012 at 02:42 PM
In Response to: "Fonda said he spoke to an ECO captain, who remembers about six similar reports during the course of his 30-year career. "They never really bare out," Fonda said, adding that they could recall none that had. "Usually it winds up being dogs or cats."........ That's because the Men In Black from Plum Island do proper clean up recon when an escapee happens...6 similar reports, in 30 years & NONE bare out? Don't be Naive.
podjoe September 12, 2012 at 05:50 PM
I don't know about Jaguars, but I've seen plenty of Cougars on the prowl
podjoe September 12, 2012 at 10:48 PM
This is a wild animal, you want to treat it with dignity and respect while it's chewing on somebody's corpse??? I guess you'd kill humans to save the whales too. Puking liberal
Alan Rice September 13, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Check my uploaded picture taken on a golf course.
EH/AMAG September 13, 2012 at 02:57 AM
Alan ~ is that photo for real? or photo-shopped? If real, where was it taken? Because that is a jaguar!
Ralebird September 13, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Probably from Southampton, the same place that sells the Land Rovers.
Alan Rice September 13, 2012 at 12:49 PM
Photo is for real. Taken at Skukuza, South Africa. The golf course is next to the famed Kruger Park. And... it's a leopard. I couldn't dig up the foto of a leopard munching on its kill (impala?) just off the green while a pod of golfers are walking across the green to move on to the next tee.
Martha Nassauer September 14, 2012 at 06:35 AM
EC Officers believe the animal that was reported as being an exotic cat "may" actually be a fox with mange. DEC says "Tracks 'likely' not from Jaguar, but 'perhaps' a fox." Would love a better description and possible video segment from source, as the words "may," and "likely" do not persuade me as a reader or resident that something other than a fox is impossible. There is nothing definitive here. Money can buy anything, even a large creature 5 feet long and 2 feet to the shoulder. From time to time exotic animals escape from zoos designed to house these creatures, with employees paid and trained to be responsible for their care and containment. Why dismiss an eyewitness with "maybe's," and why discredit this report when we have no evidence either way? In today's day and age, nothing is certain to me. Driving just east of Town Line Road in Sagaponack this evening around 1:30 a.m., my sons and I saw briefly and dark, large looking cat like animal running across the street in our head lights. This was not strange, as we saw a dark/black similar looking creature in Wainscott approximately 11 years ago. Anything is possible.
valerie doran September 14, 2012 at 07:14 AM
again, an embarrassing moment for east hampton . there are no exotic cats here, only too many bottles of wine- stop being so stupid
Martha Nassauer September 14, 2012 at 11:28 PM
Valerie, you state: "There are no exotic cats here..." and blame sightings on alcohol. Maybe in your world there is stupidity and too much alcohol (granted they often go hand in hand), but I tend to avoid definitive words. Never say never. Wealthy people who have everything, well...have everything, including things that are I believe not legal (at least without a permit). To say they don't exist is assuming the wealthy cannot obtain what their hearts desire, and that is rare. Your comment about too many bottles of wine and stupidity paint East Hampton in a bad light, not a report that a citizen made as a result of what he apparently believed to be true. We are not all a bunch of wine guzzling stupid people Valerie. Speak for yourself if you will, but not as an "ambassador" of East Hampton.
Gary M September 15, 2012 at 09:47 AM
Cat was just spoted in my back yard it almost killed my dogs i live in mesa there kennel was tore up my friend next door spoted it there were 2 of them
Evan Rofheart September 15, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Gary, where in East Hampton are you?
Martha Nassauer September 15, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Wow Gary...scary. Please let us know where is Mesa?
MrsMazz823 September 19, 2012 at 05:25 PM
2 Summers ago my husband and I were walking at the wildlife refuge and we saw a mountain lion. People said we were crazy too but I know what I saw. I do believe somebody spotted an exotic cat. I do believe they are dangerous. As for treating them "with dignity" I'll treat it like a wild animal that has the innate response to hunt and kill... You know things like my toddlers playing in the back yard or my dog outside running around. Frankly I don't think that ensuring the safety of EH Town is a waste of tax payers money. I wish that our sighting was investigated more properly and more seriously than it was. Thanks to the DEC for taking this matter seriously. As for the folks that don't believe it... I'll give you each a steak and you can stand in the field where it was spotted... Maybe you can talk the kitty cat into a cage so we can put it back in the mountains... Or maybe it will eat you. Up for taking the risk? Me neither! Not without a loaded gun at least..
Springster September 21, 2012 at 09:36 PM
At this point, you'd think there would have been reports of deer or other animals attacked by the wild cat... unless its been snacking on raccoons and rabbits.
James October 06, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Saw it in Manorville Friday night around 11:00 PM
James October 06, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Probably eating small game- seemed well fed -

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