Mys­tery cat might not be a cat at all

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL -

Dear Edi­tor,

I’ve been fol­low­ing the re­cent me­dia re­ports about sight­ings in western New­found­land of a strange wild mam­mal re­sem­bling a pan­ther or large black cat. This an­i­mal re­port­edly “screams like a woman be­ing dragged by her hair.”

My daugh­ter, a vet­eri­nar­ian in Mas­sachusetts, strongly sus­pects this an­i­mal is a “fisher” (com­monly called “fisher cat” in New Eng­land). The fisher ac­tu­ally be­longs to the weasel fam­ily, and is not a fe­line.

How­ever, if you re­search fisher you can see that it looks, be­haves, moves and sounds like the an­i­mal New­found­lan­ders have been de­scrib­ing.

And, yes, it has a fright­en­ing scream like a woman. You can even lis­ten to the blood-cur­dling scream on the in­ter­net. I my­self have heard these scary screams from fish­ers in the woods be­hind her house.

More fright­en­ing than the scream of the fisher, though, is their preda­tory be­hav­iour. They will chase their prey through the woods, into brush, over logs and up trees. My daugh­ter’s clients know that their out­door cat could be an easy meal for a wild fisher.

Other an­i­mals have been ac­ci­den­tally in­tro­duced to the is­land of New­found­land in the past. Per­haps a few fish­ers re­cently hitched a ride across the chan­nel — maybe in a truck. Now they might be mul­ti­ply­ing in New­found­land. Who knows, we may even see them on the Avalon Penin­sula in a few years.

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