Leopard Killed in Indiana Leaves Wildlife Officials Stumped

Monday, 24 Jun 2013 01:22 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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State wildlife officials continued to investigate how a leopard, which was shot last week by a resident in a rural area of southern Indiana, managed to be roaming around an area 20 miles north of Louisville in the first place.

Donna Duke, of Charlestown, Ind., said the animal had attacked several cats and dogs in previous days and neighbors originally though the culprit may have been a bobcat, according to WDRB-TV.

Duke said one of her friends spotted a large animal in the shadows pacing near her residence either late June 20 or early June 21, and her friend's boyfriend grabbed a gun and shot it, Duke told the TV station. After downing the animal and taking photos, they called the Department of Natural Resources, which took the animal to Indianapolis.

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"The cat in these photographs has been identified tentatively as a leopard," Phil Bloom, of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, told WDRB-TV. "Perhaps an immature cat about 9 months old. DNR is attempting to determine who it belonged to, or where it came from."

Indiana conservation officer Jim Hash said leopards are not native to North America but residents can keep one in Indiana with a permit, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

"We know it has to be somebody’s pet," Hash said, noting that the leopard was in good physical health.

Tim Stark, owner of Wild Life In Need, Inc., a wildlife refuge near where the leopard was shot, told WDRB-TV that the leopard did not come from his property and he had no animals missing.

Leopards, which are related to lions, tigers and jaguars, can be found mostly in sub-Sahara Africa, Central Asia, India and China, according to National Geographic. The animal is endangered in most areas outside of Africa, according to National Geographic's website.

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Leopards are meat-eaters and can hunt from trees, and drag bodies of its prey along with them to keep their meal away from scavengers. Hunting from the trees allows leopards to surprise most of their prey by pouncing on them from above.

They normally hunt at night, stalking antelope, deer, pigs, attack dogs and, occasionally, people, said National Geographic.

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