Suffolk County Police say officers on patrol found – and captured – a missing exotic cat early Friday morning in Central Islip.
The wild animal, which authorities believe to be a Eurasian lynx, was reported this week from various locations in the Islips. He was spotted and captured on Hawthorne Avenue around 3:30 a.m., police said. The cat was then transported by Strong Island Animal Rescue League to the Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.
The feline was captured using a heat-seeking drone, said Janine Bendicksen, wildlife rehabilitator at the Sweetbriar Nature Center. The animal was seen rummaging through trash and sedated by the Suffolk County Special Services Unit, she said.
It is unclear whether the cat, which appears to be around 1 year old, is a male or female. Besides being hungry and exhausted, he doesn’t appear to be injured, but the center vet will assess the cat on Friday, Bendicksen said.
“[It] needs some R&R,” she said. “I think [it] had a little adventure.
Bendicksen said they will keep the cat at Sweetbriar until it can be moved to a permanent facility. Suffolk SPCA chief Roy Gross said the shelter would likely be out of state.
John Di Leonardo, president of Humane Long Island, said he secured a placement for the cat at the Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge in Colorado, a haven for abused, abandoned and neglected big cats.
“Right now the most important thing is that he’s off the streets,” Gross said.
Reported sightings of the exotic cat first surfaced early Tuesday morning when a resident of Half Acre Road in Central Islip discovered the animal on his front porch. The cat, which is illegal to own in New York, had been spotted in various parts of Central Islip, along with a report to police that it had been spotted eight miles from West Islip on Boulevard Avenue.
Initial thoughts, Gross said, were that the exotic cat was either a bobcat, lynx or serval, but animal experts said photos were taken by owner Diane Huwer as he wandered around. from her porch on Wednesday, eating food and drinking water from dog bowls. , indicated that it is probably an Eurasian lynx.
The Eurasian lynx is native to parts of Europe, Russia, and Central Asia and can weigh up to 60 pounds.
“Someone obviously had him as a pet,” Gross said.
Gross said the SPCA and the state Department of Environmental Conservation are trying to determine who the animal belongs to, and said that once determined, that person or persons would face charges.
“These are wild animals, not the type of animals everyone should have,” Gross said. “They don’t belong in captivity that way.”