Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Three: Case File No. 35-139
AMBER LOVE 13-JAN-2020 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One and previous Year Two cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. We are in YEAR THREE still because we started cataloging our criminal investigations in the spring.
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Where We Left Off:
Oliver sent Gus on a mission to try and get a contract with John Vandermole, renowned figure artist. Instead, Gus got a little carried away and murdered him.
The Pink Panther:
Christmas day was filled with adventure for all of us at The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency. I already shared one of the stories about Gus and his interaction with an important mole citizen. There’s more to tell though.
The ground was soft and wet especially over by Fort Winchester where the drainage isn’t great. Beyond the fort is the entrance to another trail I call the Fire Trail. About a quarter of the way down the trail is a space where The Grumpy Old Man had been dumping grass clippings and leaves for years. It’s created a rich mulch that becomes a dark brown soft soil. Due to the dampness and soft give of the earth on that trail, the lawn mowers have gotten stuck in the mud a few times. There is one useful thing about having soft dirt — finding tracks.
The butler kept his eyes on Gus around Lithodom, the pit where Gus found John Vandermole. I looped around to the far side and made my way to the mulch spot in case Gus decided to go through the woods and climb across some of his favorite logs. That’s when I looked down and saw a print in the soil that was much larger than a Gus paw print. I took some measurements and photos and began to speculate that it was our friend Arthur the volkolak (bear shapeshifter). I wasn’t a hundred percent sure what I had found and took the photos back to Oliver Winchester to get his opinion.
Oliver did not agree with my original assessment of the tracks in the mulch. His main cause for rebuttal is that there are not indentations of claws in the mud. Surely soil that soft would have shown signs of claws.
“Dammit, Oliver! That’s ruins my entire case!”
“It’s not my fault you’re a human of inferior intellect to us felines.” Ollie’s vocals were louder than normal. He raised a front paw to make sure his point was clear.
“Well then, smartypants, what caused these tracks? There are any loose dogs on this side of the woods. These tracks definitely don’t belong to a squirrel. What have you got?”
“Looks like a L. rufus or a P. concolor in my opinion.”
You can imagine my puzzled and shocked expression after hearing this.
“A bobcat or a cougar — as in a mountain lion?”
“They do roam freely in this state despite what the so-called experts say. We should check with the Lakota Wolf Preserve though to make sure they haven’t lost any of their rescued bobcats. They haven’t had any cougars to my knowledge… except for you.”
“Hey, hey, hey! That’s uncalled for. Besides it was only applicable a couple of times but not now.”
“Oh, human. I’m sorry. Now go send them an email to make sure they aren’t missing any residents.” With that order, Ollie turned and left the office to go find The Cook, his favorite human whom he would never dare insult as he does me. I just want him to like me.
I found out that Logan the Lynx and Sienna the Bobcat are safely in residence at Lakota. Both felines were born in 2018. Logan had injuries that took twelve weeks of recovery. Both are in the big enclosure and fitting in well. The preserve had a rough year with weather and lives lost (human and rescued animals) so they could really use your support.
This leaves us to ponder if there is either a bobcat or mountain lion roaming around our neighborhood. Wouldn’t that be exciting? According the endangeredNJ blog, bobcats are the largest cat in our state and that mountain lions don’t exist here. I’m not sold on that since, as that blog points out, reports of sightings continue to come in.
Mountain lions, which once lived in this area, are believed to have been extirpated long ago. The Eastern cougar or eastern puma (Puma concolor couguar) is the name given to the extirpated cougars that once lived in northeastern North America. They were part of the subspecies of the North American cougar that is considered gone from the east coast by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) evaluation in 2011. –endangeredNJ.blogspot.com
It would make sense that one of the many colloquial monikers for the mountain lion is the ghost cat. They seem as stealth as a Sasquatch when it comes to the species in the mid-Atlantic states. Back at the primary scene, I also noticed that there’s one particular bush located only a few feet from the tracks in the mulch where Gus would spend extra time smelling the branches. I think someone left their scent on that bush and Gus has been reading the information from it. He hasn’t shared his feedback though and will only say it requires further investigation.
We left the Fire Trail and found our way back to the bird feeding stations. Gus notified me of some hair on the ground. He didn’t linger and walked away leaving me there to examine it. The hair was coarse and mostly white with dark color at the end. This time, my initial assessment was correct. I thought we had come across some more bonafide devil-deer physical evidence. When I took it back to the office, I met Ollie and asked him for his best guess. He agreed with me. One of the local Jersey devil/white-tailed deer hybrids had been feeding at the small maple. There was also plenty of fecal evidence left behind. I have amassed an unusually large collection of photos of poop. The best ones go on Instagram.
Since we found these two discoveries on the same day, Gus believes that there was a special meeting between the devil-deer and the mountain lion. Such an odd couple to get together. Knowing that the Jersey devils and their devil-deer offspring had been an organized lot complete with contracts between species, we had no idea about the kind of business they would be doing with wildcats. On the surface, it would seem that they would be mortal enemies — cats seeing the hybrids as another food source. Maybe if they aren’t hungry, they simply coexist in the same spaces.
Between all of us at the agency, we’ve come to an agreement that these cases are most likely linked and warrant further study. While we would be thrilled for either a bobcat or mountain lion to be in our neighborhood (the farmers sure wouldn’t), we also wouldn’t want them picking off the devil-deer population which is already so difficult to prove its extant status.
Case Status: Open