The Tale of the Maui Mystery Cat
|In 2003, a jaguar was suspected of terrorizing residents of the Olinda area, Maui. Photo of a jaguar attacking a cayman in the Pantanal, Brazil, by Frank Schoen. Copyright: https://www.123rf.com/profile_djambi1969. Used with permission. |
In 2003, I was sitting in a Starbucks across from the Honolulu Zoo in Waikiki, reading the Honolulu Advertiser, when I came across an article about the sighting of a large, cat-like creature on Maui. I don't have that initial article, but I did find an archived copy of an article from Hawaii News Now on the topic:
Wildlife officials are planning to intensify efforts today to capture a large catlike animal spotted in the lower Olinda area of Upcountry Maui. A search team sent out yesterday found evidence the animal does exist. They discovered tree trunks with deep scratch marks and a number of doves that appeared to be killed by a catlike paw. Wildlife experts plan to bait an existing trap today and add four more traps. Officials say they believe the animal is about four feet long and could be a jaguar or leopard.
A "mystery cat" in upcountry Maui is apparently still in the area around Olinda, based on a number of sightings over the past two weeks, the Department of Land and Natural Resources reported yesterday in an e-mailed news release. On Wednesday, three residents saw a cat-like animal walking down a pasture fence at around 4 p.m. The next day at about 5:30 a.m., the animal was seen just a quarter of a mile downslope from the previous day's sighting. Two women passing through the area saw the cat from about 7 feet away at about 8:50 p.m. Thursday night. They described the animal as about 7 feet long, with a long tail, black coat, yellow-green eyes and a flat face. DLNR wildlife official responded to the sighting and searched the area with infrared equipment Thursday and Friday nights. Earlier that week and the week before, homeowners who live in the area heard an animal calling and dogs barking in response.
July 15, 2003Officials look into possible attack by Maui mystery catBy Timothy Hurley, Advertiser Maui County Bureau
OLINDA, Maui — State wildlife officials are investigating the possibility that the mauling of a young deer here may have been the work of a big cat believed to have been on the loose for at least six months.
"At this time we do not have conclusive evidence for what might have killed this deer," state wildlife biologist Fern Duvall said in a statement yesterday.
The deer, a 30-pound fawn, was found late Friday evening by a homeowner on private land. A second Olinda resident reported seeing a catlike animal Saturday afternoon from his lanai in the same area….
Forget catching ghost cat
By Robert Schmidt
So where is that big Maui cat?
People are seeing it, biologists are monitoring it and the newspapers are reporting it. "I believe it's for real," one wildlife biologist was quoted in The Advertiser.
Of course something is out there. The Olinda area on Maui has trees, birds, deer, dogs, rats, people, houses, cars and, at least until recently, big cat traps.
|The jaguar male is crossing a river in the northern Pantanal. Photo by Jan Fleschmann|