Wildlife Conservation photo

A southern Indiana man shot and killed a juvenile leopard he and his girlfriend assumed was a bobcat preying on their cats.

The leopard was likely someone’s escaped pet, according to authorities.

“The cat in these photographs has been identified tentatively as a leopard,” said Phil Bloom, Indiana Department of Natural Resources spokesman. “Perhaps an immature cat about 9 months old. The DNR is attempting to determine who it belonged to, or where it came from. . . In any case, it would be someone’s pet, since leopards are not native to Indiana, or for that matter, to North America.”

It is legal to own big cats in the Hoosier State with the proper permit.

The woman and her boyfriend have asked to remain anonymous. A friend named Donna Duke agreed to talk to WDRB on their behalf. She said the couple had seen an increase in the number of pet attacks over recent weeks, and at the advice of a local wildlife official, decided to keep a sharp eye for predators.

At some point, Duke’s friend was outside near a pool when she saw a dark shadow pacing the perimeter. Her boyfriend grabbed a gun, took a shot, and heard a squeal they assumed was a bobcat.

Duke’s friend contacted the IDNR and the agency transported the animal for analysis, where soon after it was confirmed that the cat was a leopard.