An unidentified southern Indiana man shot and killed a leopard on his property just outside Charlestown, Indiana late Thursday night.
The man and his also-unidentified girlfriend had allegedly been on guard because of a recent spate of unexplained attacks on local cats and dogs, reports Louisville FOX affiliate WDRB. The couple owns several cats and feared the pets might be mauled, or worse.
“She’s got cats that are basically her family,” said Donna Duke, the local resident who alerted WDRB about the feline fracas.
The concerned couple got in touch with a local wildlife official. He theorized that a bobcat might be on the loose and suggested that the couple look out for one — particularly at night.
During the couple’s vigilant watch on Thursday night, they spied an unidentified beast lurking in the shadows not far from the backyard pool. The man got his gun and shot the pacing creature.
After hearing a “horrible squeal,” the couple investigated, according to the FOX station.
The couple reported the incident to local authorities. The ensuing postmortem, such as it may have been, revealed that the animal was not a bobcat but a leopard “about nine months old.”
The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a small predator native to most of North America. A typical bobcat is about double the size of a house cat; adult males can range in weight from 14 to 40 pounds.
The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a large carnivore native to parts of Africa and tropical Asia. Adult males can range in weight from 66 to 200 pounds. Leopards can also run up to 35 miles per hour.
“It would be someone’s pet, since leopards are not native to Indiana, or for that matter, to North America,” said Phil Bloom, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The owner of a wildlife refuge just down the road from the couple’s home is denying culpability.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Tim Stark, the owner of Wildlife In Need, Inc., told a WDRB reporter.
Stark maintained that he has a perfect record of no escapes.