Fish and wildlife agencies in every state battle exotic nonnative or invasive species of all types, but on Sept. 5 one of the more unusual exotics was captured near Hyde Memorial State Park in Santa Fe.
A number of park staff members, visitors and residents near the park had reported seeing a wild cat that looked out of place in the area, but it has since been captured.
A Conservation Officer Manuel Overby used a live cage to capture the approximately 30-pound male serval, a wild cat native to Sub-Saharan Africa.
It was transported it to the Albuquerque BioPark for evaluation and safe keeping while a permanent home is determined. Officers will attempt to identify the origin of its escape. The Department believes the serval was being kept as a pet and has no evidence to support it being from a captive breeding facility.
Serval are found in Africa south of the Sahara and have a coat marked with black spots and stripes similar to a cheetah. It is a nocturnal hunter with large ears that primarily preys on rabbits and rodents. Servals are common in southern Africa and are not endangered. They are illegal to import or possess in New Mexico.
“Our residents did the right thing by immediately reporting the sighting to the Department,” said Overby. “Exotic pets like these are not only illegal, they do not make good pets. They have the potential to put the public in harm’s way and cause damage to the state’s wildlife resources.”
For anyone who sees an animal that looks out of place in the wild, Overby advises contacting the department at (888)248-6866, Operation Game Thief at (800)432-4263 or the local law enforcement agency.