Dan Rattiner's Stories

Sag Harbor Caracal Found Dead in Water Mill

It is unclear how the animal died, and no autopsy will be performed.

Around October 5, Steven Wright was strolling down Carroll Street in Sag Harbor when, looking through to the other side of a turkey wire fence, he saw an animal that looked very much like a mountain lion. As there are no mountain lions in Sag Harbor, he took out a camera and made a video of what he saw. The creature then vanished into the woods.

A photograph from this video was then examined by authorities who identified the creature as a caracal, a wild cat similar to a mountain lion but smaller that can be found roaming free in Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. It has no business in Sag Harbor or anywhere else in America. It was also noted that in the photo that the caracal was wearing a collar. It also appeared to have been declawed.

The authorities then alerted the general public to be on the lookout for the animal but not go near it. Even declawed, this wild animal was a meat eater and dangerous. See it and report it to the police.

Now a dead caracal has been found by the side of Noyac Path in Water Mill, the Sag Harbor Express reported. Picked up by Southampton Town Animal Control, the dead caracal was found fully clawed and with no collar. Although it is unclear how the animal died, no autopsy will be performed. It is unclear how this animal will be disposed of.

So, is there one caracal or two? The evidence suggests that at least one of them was brought here in captivity. The imagination suggests that whoever brought the first of them here found that he (or she) was pining away for a mate. So a second was brought to the East End, but as it happened the two didn’t like each other, and, furthermore, the second would not permit himself (herself) to be collared and declawed and so, perhaps after biting the owner, ran away.

The owner, now quite beside him- or herself, decided to abandon the project and so also let the first caracal free in the hopes the pair might still meet up in the woods and work things out. But no. Now the second cat is dead.

New York State has a law, passed in 2013, saying that wild animals may not be taken into private captivity, so it is expected there will be consequences with this, once the first caracal, now confused and distraught, is found and the information about the owner can be determined from what is on its collar.

Lawbreakers sometimes leave a single clue like this to give themselves away. Our authorities are on the job.

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