Mar 20, 2009 6:44 am US/Eastern
Mysterious Big Black Cats Shock Rockland County
Father, Son Not First To Tell Of Harrowing Experience With
Massive Feline: "Had 3-Foot Tail, Was 4-5 Feet Long"
Large Cats Like Jaguars, Panthers Not Native To Tri-State
Mysterious big black cats are scaring residents of Rockland County, N.Y. Wildlife experts aren't sure what they are, or how they got there.
First it was mysterious sonic booms in the
northern suburbs. Now it's mystery cats, big exotic-looking felines spotted in the woods of Rockland County.
Two of the spotters spoke with CBS 2 HD.
It started out like any other bike ride for Dorian Tunell and his 8-year-old son, Evan.
But the fun quickly turned to fear.
"I was just like paralyzed, and then my dad told me to run to the road, where that rock line is," Evan said.
Evan and his dad got the scare of their lives Tuesday when they spotted two huge black cats in the woods near Tallman Mountain State Park.
"This thing had a three-foot tail on it, body was four or five feet long, stood three feet tall. It was a large cat," Dorian said.
They said the cat looked like a jaguar -- with shiny dark fur.
The Tunells ran from the park and called police. Then they helped park rangers locate what look to be paw prints -- and nearby -- a lot of fur.
Either a deer was shedding or it ended up as lunch for a big cat.
This is just the latest in a series of big-cat sightings in this part of Rockland County. Not long ago a woman reported seeing big cats right along the Palisades Parkway.
Since big cats aren't native to the area, where did they come from?
Tony Gerard lives nearby, and posed that question to wildlife officials.
"They could have been raised in captivity somewhere and then escaped or were released when they got too big to handle," Gerard said.
"They just escaped from somewhere or somebody has really weird pets and let them go," Evan Tunell said.
Wildlife agencies said it needs more investigation, but the Tunells are convinced something is out there -- and they hope it's found before someone gets hurt.
New York State Park Police said extra staff has been sent to Tallman Mountain to look into the cat sightings.
[link to wcbstv.com