A big cat mistaken for a cougar scares a Vancouver neighborhood and takes out the police | CBC News

It took more than a flyer on a utility pole for a lost cat in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighborhood to be returned to its owner on Wednesday.

Police and conservation officers were called after residents reported seeing a mountain lion, far from its natural habitat, in the area of ​​Granville Street and 20th Avenue around 1 p.m.

“We notified some schools in the area for student safety when we believed it might have been a feral cat,” said Sgt. Steve Addison with the Vancouver Police Department.

“This was a domestic cat that was cornered and returned to [its] owner by our officers”.

But not in front of many people. reported the big cataccording to the BC Conservation Officers Service (COS).

The COS, in a tweet, identified the big cat with distinctive spotted fur as a savannah cat, which is not a cat. alien or “controlled alien species” under the laws of BC.

Exotic animals that are not native to BC are not considered wildlife under the designation, but are considered a potential threat to people, property, and other wildlife.

It is also illegal to breed or transport species listed in the regulation, which includes other big cats such as tigers and lions.

But the animal that sent Shaughnessy into a momentary panic turned out to be none of those.

“We appreciate the public asking for advice so you can safely reunite with your owner,” the COS said on Twitter.

While the Service Conservation Officers maintains the cat was a savannah cat, at least two cat experts aren’t so sure, saying it was probably a serval, a wild cat native to Africa.

A savannah cat is a hybrid species that is a cross between a serval and a domesticated cat.

Eric Buckingham is seen with savannah kittens. He says that they are smaller than the serval, from whom they are descended. (Submitted by Sharon and Eric Buckingham)

Eric Buckingham, who breeds savannah cats with his wife Sharon, said the feline lost Wednesday was larger than a typical savannah cat and had a different spot pattern than savannah cats he has seen.

“Usually most savannah breeders don’t have servals because they are too wild,” he told CBC News. “A serval is really wild…it’s not a domestic cat.”

Buckingham said that savannah cats bred to pet owners are often separated by five or six generations from their serval ancestors.

“Usually when we raise kittens, we want them to be [generation] five and six because… they are still playful and everything,” he said.

Servals, like this cat seized by the BC SPCA, are still legal to keep as pets. The society wants the province to restrict ownership of the cat, which originates from Africa. (BCSPCA)

Dr. Sara Dubois, scientific director of the BC SPCA, said the servals are not suitable as pets, even though they are still bred and sold as exotic house cats.

He also said the cat returned to its owner on Wednesday was likely a serval.

“[Servals are] They’re fast and they’re great jumpers and they’re still a little dangerous,” he told CBC News. “They will be smaller than a bobcat if that helps people visualize their size.

“They are hunters who need constant enrichment. That is why it is so difficult to keep them in captivity.”

Dubois said the Humane Society had been pushing the British Columbia government to include servals in the Controlled Alien Species Regulation, especially after a 2019 investigation found 13 servals living in “horrific” conditions in Kamloops, BC

She said the animals would suffer significantly in captivity even if they weren’t public health risks.

“We have a lot of house cats that are just waiting for a home,” he said. “That’s not the problem. It’s really about these exotic designer cats that people are buying.”

CBC News reached out to the COS to reconfirm the species of the missing cat, but did not receive a response by the deadline.


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