Pennsylvania and New Jersey have logged a number of bizarre wildlife sightings this summer, with residents and authorities spotting everything from giant exotic anacondas and gimpy bears to kitty-munching coyotes and disturbing mystery species. Since we’re quickly approaching fantasy football season, what better way to identify the best of the best than a proper power matrix? Our favorite panic-inducing locally situated critters, RANKED, after the jump.
7. Rocky the Bobcat
Perhaps the most famous bobcat on the East Coast that isn’t a zero-turn commercial lawnmower, Rocky is a “domesticated” pet owned by a Stafford Township resident who claims he’s part bobcat, part Maine coon. The 38-pound feline kept going on the lam and freaking everyone out, so animal control caught him and put him in zoo jail. His owner was able to get him back, thanks to an inconclusive DNA test that couldn’t prove he was purebred — “a stunner that could have been equated to an animal version of the Maury Povich Show,” according to the awesome Asbury Park Press. Earlier this month, the “wayward bobcat” got out again and is heading back to the clink, a decision we imagine Rocky responded to with, “I did my damn time, I ain’t going back mrrrrowww.” He’s bringing up the rear of these power rankings because he’s only kinda wild.
6. New Jersey Coyotes
Coyotes have long lived throughout the Garden State, but their range is apparently expanding. One woman in Wall recently insisted that they’re around in force, and they’re eating her cats. She now arms herself with a golf club when she goes out on walks with her dogs. Local authorities, meanwhile, claim they’ve found no recent evidence of coyotes in the area. Likely story. I smell anti-cat lobby coverup! How much are those coyotes paying you? I’ll double it.
5. The Phantom Snake of Lake Hopactong
The alleged existence of a 16-foot green anaconda in the waters of Jersey’s Lake Hopactong is fascinating and scary on its own, but what really makes this story awesome is the brutally passive-aggressive fight in the press between snakehunter Gerald Andrejcak and the Department of Environmental Protection, which lambasts him as a "so-called snake expert." This saga seriously has it all — threatening phone calls from mystery men, an animal control officer blacklisted for making the claims, zany Nessie-like sightings from locals, and Andrejacak citing the "I've got a family, man!" defense at weird junctures. Can't wait until the anaconda hijacks local airwaves and declares reptilian war on Jefferson Township!
4. The Three-Legged Poconos bear
There are regular bear sightings throughout the region, but ones missing limbs are relatively uncommon. But that's exactly what three Poconos residents have spotted this summer, most recently as this week. The three-legged bear, whom we should refer to as Pogo, gets a bump-up in these rankings based on overall cuteness factor, like how dogs with three legs are way more adorable than dogs with four. Plus, we're currently in the thick of bear mating season, which could explain why he's been seen all over the place — he's rollin' tripod-style , looking for love. She's out there, Pogo! Watch this wonderful and relevant scene from Louie to psych yourself up.
3. The Mystery Creature of Lemoyne
Cumberland County cops have been receiving a number of reports about a "strange-looking wild animal" roaming about their parts. What’s funny is that it looks like a big-ass fox and it probably is a big-ass fox, but that is way less interesting than pretending it is a wholly unidentifiable and possibly dangerous monster species, so let's stick with that! Apparently this thing has been around for awhile and it something of a legend with the locals. Clearly the chupacabra. Hide yer goats!
2. The Bird-Eating Python of Cape May County
Imagine if you were just hanging out in your backyard drinking a Bud Light Lime and you looked up into your pretty crepe myrtle tree and saw a 12-foot-long murderous snake munching on a damn seagull. That's exactly what's going on in Villas, where a gigantic serpent is on the lam. It's apparently tried to eat house cats, coyote-style, and is picking fights with its own species, as well. Make something happen, New Jersey. You don’t have the convenience of having Jon Voight here to sacrifice himself for your and J-Lo's wellbeing.
1. The Killer Fisher Cat of Pennsauken
This is my favorite local wild and wacky animal "sighting" to date because, much like our friend the Phantom Snake, there’s been absolutely no physical evidence of its existence. But why let that stop the fun? Someone Googled a photo of a fisher cat — "a cross between a cat and a fox, with the attitude of a wolverine" (sounds like my ex-wife, heyooooo) — and posted it to the Pennsauken Township Facebook page. Animal control received a bizarre voicemail about the animal a few days later. That’s it. This speaks to the true essence of the classic weird animal sighting, which is why it's number one here. There are no photos, no attacks, no missing animals or children. But it’s still definitely out there, so you should be scared. BEWARE THE FISHER CAT OF PENNSAUKEN.
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