Mysterious Large Feline is Sighted |jon_downes|jon@cfz.org.uk|10/22/05 at 10:24:03|Jon_Downes|xx|0|86.138.66.100|
By Erin Lynch elynch@bcnnew.com

For several months Fairfield Animal Control has been receiving numerous sightings of a "large tan cat with a long tail" in the South Pine Creek section of town. Although the exact type of cat is unknown, Fairfield Animal Control is asking residents if they see the feline to call its office or the Police Department. "Sporadic calls have been made since late August but large cat sightings have been made in the area periodically for years. Our staff has never seen this cat so we cannot confirm to what type of cat it is," said Animal Control Officer Paul Miller. Miller said the majority of the sightings have occurred in the Pine Creek Marsh on Old Dam Road.
Animal Control said the reports it has received match the description of a cougar-type of feline and that it is generally the size of a golden retriever. Miller said even though bobcats are quite common in this area, they have short tails and the description Animal Control has been receiving from residents is a large cat with a long tail. According to an informational packet provided by Animal Control, male mountain lions, also known as cougars, on average weigh 140 pounds and are 7 feet from nose to tail; females are generally smaller. Mountain lions tend to be brown to gray in color. Mountain lions generally feed on deer and elk.

Eastern pumas are reddish-tan and have white fur on the belly and under the chin, black markings behind their ears, face and tip of their tail. On average, they weigh between 65 and 130 pounds but can grow as large as 170 pounds. Eastern pumas tend to feed on rabbits, raccoons, opossum and fish. Animal Control Officer Rachel Solveira said these types of cats "are known to survive in various environments including mountain forests, grasslands, swamps and seacoasts." Miller said if he could take a guess on where the animal came from, he believes it "could possibly be a large exotic pet that lived in the area."

"I have also heard reports that there have been other sightings of a large cat in Easton, Weston and Trumbull," Miller said. He added, "I've been working here for 17 years and periodically we have received reports of a large cat in or around areas of town. The reports are very sporadic and I can't confirm that it's a mountain lion it's something out of the ordinary but I can't confirm that it's a cougar either." Even though residents have spotted the mysterious large cat, Miller said "no one has seen this animal attack so it hasn't proven to attack people or pets." Miller said Animal Control has set a trap in the marshland "as a precaution" but he didn't expect to catch anything.

To date, Miller said, all that's been caught are domestic cats and raccoons. Miller said he has been in contact with the state Department of Environmental Protection, which told him it would like to be frequently updated on the situation. If anyone sees the large tan cat, he or she can contact the Fairfield Animal Control at 254-4857 or the Police Department at 254-4800.
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