HOLUALOA (KHON2) — A report of a large wildcat has some Hawaii Island residents on edge. What appears to be something the size of a large dog was reported by a Big Island man on the rural slopes of Hualalai above Kailua-Kona.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources is now investigating what may be on the prowl.
The photos were taken by a Holualoa man who said he saw the mysterious feline while he was trimming weeds Sunday morning at around 10 a.m.
“I look up about 125 yards up towards the top of the property along the stone wall and I see this massive animal and at first I’m thinking that’s a big dog. I’m like, oh my god, that is not a dog that is a cat. That is a huge cat.” the man, who wishes to remain anonymous, said.
The man reported he was shaking while taking the photos on his phone. He zoomed in as close as he could, but the images are blurry.
He said he then went back to grab his rifle, firing a shot to try and scare it off.
“As soon as it jumped, I mean this thing maybe five, six feet up in the air, as well as out almost 30 feet,” the man said. “I’ve never seen anything like that. I mean, cats can jump but I’ve never seen a big cat jump,”
He then snapped some photos of the tracks he says it left, using his hand to compare the size.
He also reported it to the DLNR, who is now investigating.
“We’re gonna go and do some surveys ourselves we’re gonna put some cameras out in the area,” DLNR Wildlife Biologist Kanalu Sproat said. “He already has some. So we’re gonna put some more out and just see if we can catch it again on camera.”
If they do, the DLNR plans to use dogs and traps to capture the animal.
According to state law, wildcats like lynxes, jaguars, bobcats, leopards and hybrids are prohibited.
Officials still aren’t sure what it is. Experts with the Honolulu Zoo were unable to determine what the animal is from the pictures.
“I would say of all the cats that I could really measure it against. It’s between the American Cougar and North American Puma and like a Southwestern Lynx,” the man said.
Sproat would like to know where the animal came from.
“Definitely not something from here, smuggled in somehow if it is what we think it is, it doesn’t belong and we’ll take steps to remove it if we confirm it,” he said.
Sproat added that residents should keep an eye out and that large cats generally don’t like dogs.