A mysterious creature that has been spotted by locals around the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx for the past few months has finally been identified.
The odd-looking animal, which was first photographed in April by NYPD officer Derek Lenart, is a fisher, a member of the weasel family, the Daily Mail reports.
Fishers, also known as a fisher-cat, first lived in the New York City area in the 1600s until the fur trade pushed them north and into the Adirondacks.
Zoologist Roland Kays, of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, told CBS New York that the animal may have come down the river.
“I'm guessing maybe he came down the river, kind of connecting up some of the natural areas, and then kind of took this side trip off into the Bronx,” said Kays. “They're very good at sneaking around.”
The fisher can climb trees and hunts rats, deer, and squirrels. Although it’s not a threat to humans, fishers are known to eat small dogs and cats as well.
Trapping these short-legged, furry-tailed creatures was banned in the 1930s. But now the fisher population is growing in the Northeast and a trapping season has been reinstated, says Kays.
“The overall trend in the area is that their populations are increasing and that they’re using more and more urbanized environments,” he told DNA Info. “We’ve never seen them survive in anything as developed as the Bronx, so we don’t know. Can they really set up a population?”