Stray cat rut |Richard_F||06/13/04 at 13:50:04|richard_f|xx|0||Stray cat rut

Melissa J. Varnavas
Friday, June 4, 2004

A year later, officials seem no closer to catching the North Shore's fugitive feline

The cat-like creature that's allegedly been mauling deer around the North Shore for almost a year has yet to be found, but some Beverly residents hope that raising consciousness about the elusive cat could help authorities catch the mysterious animal.

"We want to have it humanely removed and maybe taken care of and brought back to its natural environment," says Beverly resident Joanne Wall. "People are skeptical; they think this is some sort of a Loch Ness monster sort of a thing, but it's real - we've seen it. Maybe if we keep the public aware we will be able to catch this thing."

The strange animal first began to appear in spring and summer of 2003. The creature reportedly mauled a deer and left its carcass in a Beverly backyard in October. At the time, officers attempted to lure the animal, for capture, with a Styrofoam deer decoy. But the cat, apparently preferring actual deer meat to Styrofoam, steered clear.

A second deer was found mutilated in the woods off Greenwood Avenue, in Beverly Farms, this past February.

Some have said the animal could be a fox, although let's face it, that would have to be some freakin' huge fox. Others have pointed to the possibility of a lynx, some of which reside in Maine. Some speculate the animal is a mountain lion, although that species' closest native home is Michigan and Florida. Earlier this summer, state wildlife officials said coyotes were probably the cause of the commotion.

Although several coyote tracks were seen at the Beverly Farms deer slaying, enough to even indicate a pack, Animal Control Officer Jim Lindley didn't believe coyotes were the culprits.

According to Wall, municipal officials have been responsive to citizen concerns. She says police have even set up a motion detector on one neighborhood resident's property.

Nevertheless, Wall says she is troubled by the lack of answers available to homeowners. She described a number of rumors spreading through the area including one about a Beverly farm which reportedly boards animals but refused to board a puma and one about an exotic animal farm in Ipswich which may have released something into the wild.

The residents hope to set up a meeting with state and local officials to discuss the matter this weekend. No specific time or place were available at press time.

"My frustration is that different organizations have different speculations and no one has any real answers," said Wall. "Our concern is that it's going to take a child or a pet before any action is taken."