Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency Year Five:

Case File No. 02-210

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AMBER LOVE 17-MAY-2021 Find out how all this began. Catch up on Year One, Year Two, Year Three, and Year Four cases at the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency.

This work is supported by the generous backers who adore my cat stories at Patreon.com/amberunmasked and they also get first access to what’s happening with my books and podcast. For a one-time tip, you can go to the new PayPal.me.



Where We Left Off:

Gus has been on a “winning” streak with capturing rodents and putting them to death. One got away.

The Adventure of the Lion’s Mane:

Gus continues to focus his attention close to the parked cars while Oliver and his Butler have been venturing further out and about the Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency estate. There was one exception: Gus accompanied me on a group walk at a lovely park on Earth Day. Unfortunately it was the windiest day of the year. Gus was in his backpack and perfectly behaved. Otherwise, he’s been on vole patrol around the cars.

gus in backpack
Photo by Betsy Savoia

April 25th was shaping up to be a typical Sunday. Gus was in the lower parking area stalking the rock fortress. As so often happens here in the magical lands of the estate, it was not a typical day.

A large moving object caught my peripheral vision. I looked up and saw a bobcat! Yes, a real world bobcat. The form was bigger than a fox. The tail was stubby. The head was most certainly feline round in shape not long like a fox. I fumbled for my zoom lens and tried my damnedest to clip it in place while trying to focus before the creature was gone.

The only time I had ever seen a bobcat before was at the Lakota Wolf Preserve which is not too far from here. Those were in captivity having been rescued for some reason I don’t remember. All the time I’ve spent researching the wildlife and cryptids of New Jersey, I knew that bobcats were here, but I never expected to see one just as I never expected to see bald eagles but now I have. The feline behaved the same way other creatures have: it was casually walking and minding its own business. It came up from the road, walked through the north side where it can get muddy and swampy; then it turned and walked down the fire trail. It turned again and went into the woods where the hill begins to incline.

bobcat in yard

I couldn’t wait to tell everyone. I posted my blurry photos and reveled in the high of seeing such a gorgeous creature. (By the way, how does that post on IG only have seven Likes?) Then a weight started to crush my chest. The only reason Gus and I got to see the bobcat like we have the bears and deer is because more developments have consumed their habitat. Giant houses for “seniors” living active lives in 55+ communities. Forest areas decimated by huge machines. Animals with no place left to go and live their lives in peace without humans.

bobcat in yard

Bobcats (lynx rufus) are so endangered in New Jersey that if you hit one with your car, you’re supposed to report it. In other words, you cannot take it to be taxidermied and kept as a trophy even if the death was purely accidental. I printed out the report and prepared it to send when I noticed a note on the PDF that said due to COVID-19 paper copies were not likely to be opened. I don’t know if this is because they’re actually afraid of the mail as a transmission source or if it’s because the offices had to furlough people so no one is there to do the work. I then put all the documents together in an email and got this automated reply which leaves me prickly:

Your email has been received in the Biotics email system. Please be advised that effective March 18, 2020 as a result of the transition of DEP employees from office to home, the Endangered & Nongame Species Program will not be able to process Biotics data and personal replies to emails will not be sent. Data processing and replies to emails will be processed in the order in which they were received once the ENSP regains its ability to perform this function. Thank you for your cooperation and understanding.

That reply doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that any data will has been recorded since the pandemic shutdowns in March 2020. A lot of this work was done by volunteers anyway. I found a different report to file for bobcat, fisher, and nutria sightings with yet another email address. At least that one had a specific person’s name attached to it. I forwarded the first report, photos, and map and filled out the second report and sent all of that to this new contact named Andrew, the principal biologist for the state (what an exceptionally cool job title). He replied personally within the hour and said he would add the sighting to the database.

puma leopard hybrid
Pumapard, Rothschild Museum, Tring. By Messybeast at English Wikipedia, CC BY 2.5

 

The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency has previously investigated the presence of wild cats like bobcats and pumas. We speculated about the hybrid pumapard and possible other new hybrids like the pancelot having been created. Those queries began in 2019. Based on the size of the animal Gus and I watched, it was much bigger than a pumapard or fox. No chance of mistaken identity here.

Other Wildlife News:

I was reading some interesting facts about NJ’s treatment of wildlife. Monk parakeets were not native to NJ and suspected to have been brought in through Kennedy airport and accidentally released over half a century ago. Sometimes called Quaker parrots, these birds have been the target of utility companies who claim their nests are a nuisance. Because of that, they are allowed to destroy the nests on sight without any chance of relocation.

green birds
Myiopsitta monachus
Three Monk Parakeets (also known as the Quaker Parrots) in New York, USA. Photo by Garrett Ziegler

These gorgeous exotic lime green birds have been classified as “potentially dangerous” by the state since they appeared. They aren’t. They don’t transmit any unusual diseases, behave as pests, or anything else that could conceivably be considered a nuisance. They simply live their lives and spend their lifespan close to wherever they were born. They’re considered invasive simply because they weren’t native. Black squirrels weren’t native either, but they get to live without threat. Activist Ali Fragale has taken on the role of pioneer advocate to save the Quaker parrots. She’s managed to get PSE&G, only one of the energy companies, to allow her and other volunteers to remove the nests twice a year.

deer vs hunter

Also, beginning May 10th, urine-based deer lures for hunting have finally been banned. It’s because of a terrible disease called Chronic Wasting Disease. Speaking of deer populations, they are fundamentally tied to the black bears. Legislators looking to ban bear feeding have not taken into consideration that bears will eat from deer bait feeders. Duh! These lawmakers would rather pass bills that don’t make any sense.

New Jersey appears to have new laws on the books or nearly on them — that create a database of people convicted of animal cruelty and also prohibits them from owning or adopting companion animals. The process of getting bills passed is so cumbersome and confusing (queue I’m just a Bill) that the one piece about prohibiting offenders from owning animals is, for some reason, back in the Agricultural Committee even though the votes were resounding in favor of passing. I guess farm animals are not included either. Hard to figure out the letter of the law vs the spirit of the law.

Case Findings:

With the acceptance of our report filed with the state of New Jersey, we have a bonafide lynx rufus sighting. I’m going to be talking with a photographer friend to see if I can acquire one of his old cameras so that my photo quality improves.

Case Status: Closed (but looking forward to more sightings)

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