Possible jaguar loose in East Hampton

Long Island news from Eyewitness News

September 11, 2012 6:31:02 PM PDT
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has confirmed officers are looking into reports of a potential jaguar on the loose in East Hampton.

According to DEC spokesman Bill Fonda, environmental control officers were first called to investigate an exotic cat spotting at 56 Spring Close Lane on Sunday morning, after resident Matthew Lester supposedly saw "a grayish cat-like creature about 5-feet long, 2-feet high at the shoulder with a long striped tail eating composting vegetables and meat scraps."

The animal fled into the brush, however, after Lester's arrival to the scene at about 11 a.m.

Officers did find tracks in the area but couldn't identify the animal that left them, though one of the tracks appeared to belong to a large animal. Fonda said no other evidence, such as hair, was found on the scene.

For now, the DEC plans on installing a camera on a trail near the farm and checking if a jaguar or other exotic cat that belongs to someone on the East End had gotten loose.

Fonda said exotic cats are permitted in the area for educational purposes, but they require a special license. "Potentially people have an illegal one," Fonda added.

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