Authorities captured early Friday a lynx that was on the loose in the Town of Islip for three days after area residents reported spotting the wild cat prowling the streets.
Suffolk County police Emergency Service Unit and Third Precinct officers found the big cat on Hawthorne Avenue in Central Islip at 3:30 a.m., police said. Strong Island Animal Rescue then captured the cat and brought it to Sweetbriar Nature Center in Smithtown.
“We were super happy, we’ve been tracking him for a while,” Frankie Floridia, president of Strong Island Animal Rescue, told the Press. “It’s just an amazing thing. It’s a happy ending.”
The lynx is believed to have been somebody’s escaped pet, but since it is illegal to keep wild cats in New York State, the owner has not come forward. Big cats such as a lynx or bobcat are not indigenous to Long Island.
Reports of the wild animal on the loose came first in to police at about 10:40 a.m. on Tuesday, the department said. When police arrived at the scene on Boulevard Avenue in West Islip, the big cat was gone. Residents also report seeing the animal, reportedly a Siberian lynx, earlier that morning.
Strong Island Animal Rescue received a call Tuesday at about 9 a.m. from an Islip homeowner who snapped photos of the big cat sitting and walking around on her porch. And a Central Islip resident who cares for feral cats said he spotted the lynx near his home.
Sweetbriar said not to expect to see the lynx anytime soon, but a veterinarian is expected to evaluate the cat Friday.
“She has been through quite a bit in the last week, and we want everyone to know that we will not have her visible to the public,” the nature center said in a Facebook post. “We want to ensure she is happy, healthy, and not stressed.”
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone held a news conference Friday afternoon at the Third Precinct alongside Floridia and Suffolk officiers who helped get the animal to safety in Smithtown.
“Fortunately this turned out well, [there’s] no indication that there were any animals or pets that were hurt or killed or obviously any people, but it could’ve turned out very differently, as well, so we’re grateful for all the work of our first responders here,” Bellone said. “But we do want to find out what happened here. Why was this animal here, where did it come from, how was it being treated? It’s certainly not supposed to be kept in a home in a suburban community here. So that work is happening.”
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is working with the Suffolk County SPCA to determine an appropriate and legal location for the cat to be housed permanently, the agency said.
Anyone with information on who may have possessed the cat prior to its release and subsequent capture should contact DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers at 631-444-0250.