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Letter: Mystery cat might not be a cat at all

I’ve been following the recent media reports about sightings in western Newfoundland of a strange wild mammal resembling a panther or large black cat. This animal reportedly “screams like a woman being dragged by her hair.”

My daughter, a veterinarian in Massachusetts, strongly suspects this animal is a “fisher” (commonly called “fisher cat” in New England). The fisher actually belongs to the weasel family, and is not a feline.

However, if you research fisher you can see that it looks, behaves, moves and sounds like the animal Newfoundlanders have been describing.

And, yes, it has a frightening scream like a woman. You can even listen to the blood-curdling scream on the internet. I myself have heard these scary screams from fishers in the woods behind her house.

More frightening than the scream of the fisher, though, is their predatory behaviour. They will chase their prey through the woods, into brush, over logs and up trees. My daughter’s clients know that their outdoor cat could be an easy meal for a wild fisher.

Other animals have been accidentally introduced to the island of Newfoundland in the past. Perhaps a few fishers recently hitched a ride across the channel — maybe in a truck. Now they might be multiplying in Newfoundland. Who knows, we may even see them on the Avalon Peninsula in a few years.

 

Tonya Bassler

St. John’s

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