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Lair of the Beasts: A Creature in the Yard

Predator on the Loose

By Nick Redfern     October 08, 2011

 

Something weird started to happen in our back-yard in late August of this year. While out watering the grass one evening, I stumbled upon a decapitated mole in the grass, which I thought was kind of odd, but didn’t think too much about it.
 
Fellow crytpozoologist, and my co-author on Monsters of Texas, Ken Gerhard, saw it when he came to visit shortly afterwards and concurred with me that the mole had been killed by some local predator. But: of what variety? Well, that was the big question.
 
Things didn’t end there, however. A week or two later, I found a large, skinned bone on the lawn. It had been picked entirely clean of meat. But, there was far more - and much worse - to come.
 
I had spent the morning of September 24 getting everything ready for a drive down to Austin, Texas, where I was due to lecture that evening for S. Miles Lewis’ Anomaly Archives group. After I finished getting all my lecture material together, and mapped the drive, I went to sit outside with my wife, Dana, and we hung out there for an hour so.
 
Only a couple of minutes after we sat down at our patio table, Dana gave out a huge scream and pointed to a paved area about eight-feet from where we were sitting. The sight was shocking. Nothing less than the torn-off, or bitten-off, head of a fully-grown possum was sitting, bolt-upright no less, on the small paved area that our grill sits on.
 
We stared, dumbfounded, for a few seconds, then I got up, walked over, and had a look at it. Yep, there was no doubting it: the unknown predator that had made a meal of something and tore the head off a mole was back.
 
So, what was the nature of the beast that has decided to call our yard its hunting-ground?
 
I cannot be sure, but what I can say for certain is that twice in the twelve months leading up to the attacks we saw a Coyote in the street outside our house. The first time was in June 2010, when we came back from my mom's funeral in England and it raced across the road in front of us, around 8.30 p.m. at night.
 
On the second occasion we saw it during a very violent thunderstorm in late May 2011, when - again - it was racing along the road outside our home.
 
But, things don’t end there. Our yard is surrounded by a 6-foot, 6-inch-high fence. Could a coyote scale that, possibly with the body of a full-grown possum clamped in its jaws? My answer: maybe, maybe not. And, on three occasions now we have opened the back door in the morning to a very strong and widespread smell of what is undoubtedly feline urine. Perhaps our visitor is some sort of large, wild cat?
 
Plus, although we live in a city (Arlington, Texas, just outside Dallas and Fort Worth) behind our house is a huge stretch of field that extends for hundreds of feet (both length and breadth-wise), the ideal place for a stealthy predator, perhaps. As I write these words, the killings have stopped. But, I still keep a careful, daily look-out for any mysterious animal remains in our yard...
 
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including the forthcoming Keep Out.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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karas1 10/8/2011 5:54:25 AM

Sounds like some kind of cat.  I see by the picture you chose for the article that you had already come to that conclusion.

When I was a girl our housecats did a lot of hunting and both the biting the head off thing and the displaying the kill thing sound very familliar.  

A full grown possum sounds like awfully large prey for for a housecat, though the habitat you describe behind your house sounds like a perfect place for a feral cat to live.  Maybe the possum was injured and the cat finished it off?  Or maybe it's a huge specimin of a housecat.  Some breeds do get quite large.  I'm not sure what breeds of wildcat live in Texas.  Do you have lynxes or something?

Either way, it wouldn't be dangerous to humans unless you tried to catch it or something.  Just enjoy the idea of a tiny tiger hunting the jungles and grasslands of your home territory and be happy that it's much too small to consider you prey.

NickRedfern 10/8/2011 8:02:22 AM

Karas

My wife said we should contact Animal Control and have them bring around a cage or trap to catch it. But I said no.

Frankly, I think the whole idea of a large wildcat roaming around here is very cool.

And you're right: no-one is going to get hurt by  it. Aside from small animals. But that's just nature. So, I'm cool with it wandering around and maybe one day I'll get lucky and get a picture of it.

 

Wyldstaar 10/8/2011 3:21:38 PM

A predator that seems to be mainly interested in eating large destructive rodents sounds like like a blessing to me.  Probably a bobcat or a really big feral domestic cat.  Both are plentiful in North Texas.  I agree that a coyote is possible, but highly unlikely.  If it were a coyote, the local pets would be disappearing in addition to the large rodents.  The climbing involved clearly points to a feline. 

karas1 10/8/2011 5:28:47 PM

Though possums look ratlike they aren't rodents.  They are marsupials, the only species of marsupial native to the americas.

Sorry to be pedantic about it but I used to be a professional naturalist.

jonmalcom 10/10/2011 10:22:23 AM

Hey,

This is scary, I used to live in Arlington. I live in Mansfield now.

Perhaps you can get me more details to the story? If you want my email let me know in the comments Nick.

jodyr 10/10/2011 11:31:21 AM

Think that creature has relatives in Northern California. I live in the Sierra Foothills and have seen numerous small animals with the head missing. We also notice a strong feline urine stinch on and around the deck periodically.

On 10/2/11 I was getting dog food on the side of the house in the early evening when it began to "rain" on me. I hurried to the deck so it wouldn't wet the food. It was only after I walked up the steps to the deck I realized the only rain was where I was standing. I went in and got a flashlight to be sure I was correct. I was, the only wet area being where I was standing. It was a clear starry night.

It wasn't until I went inside again that I discovered the "rain" was actually feline urine! I was soaked. The only reasonable thing I can assume, since there was nothing overhead where I was standing, is a mountain lion must have sprayed me from the roof on my house - 10 feet away.

NickRedfern 10/10/2011 2:05:05 PM

Jon:

There's not much more, if indeed anything else, to add right now. The article covered everything that has happened so far. But, if there are any more developments, I'll definitely post something in the Comments here.

Nick

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