Wednesday, February 21, 2018
tbt*

Suspected bobcat returned to N.J. woman

A judge has ordered the return of runaway feline to a New Jersey woman after DNA testing couldn't conclusively say whether it was a purebred bobcat.

Municipal Court Judge Damian Murray ruled that Ginny Fine can regain custody of 38-pound Rocky after a mitochondrial DNA test found that the cat's mother was 98 percent bobcat, but couldn't determine its father's lineage, the Asbury Park Press reported.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother.

"The bottom line is, Rocky goes home," Murray said.

Fine, who has maintained that Rocky is a hybrid bobcat and Maine coon, said she was shocked by the ruling.

"I don't even know what to say. I was not expecting that," she said outside of court in Stafford, N.J.

She would have needed a special permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection to get Rocky back if it was determined to be a purebred bobcat. The permit is only issued for zoos, animal exhibitors, for scientific purposes or for agencies that own animals for advertising or acting, according to the DEP.

Fine pleaded guilty to letting the animal get loose and was fined $1,000 after Rocky ran away from her home for a second time in March.

The cat was missing for 12 days, leading police to hunt through the woods. It was lured back on April 7 and has been at the Popcorn Park Zoo in Lacey since then.

Murray ordered that the cat be kept in an enclosure that will be periodically inspected by the state.

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