As you can imagine, when Daily Intel first read that a pair of panthers — panthers! — had been spotted just over the bridge in the New Jersey Palisades, we assumed the Animal Takeover we’ve long been expecting was at last at hand, and were ready to spring into action. Intel Chris rose from his cubicle. “We must meet with these insurgents, and negotiate with them in their native tongue,” he announced (he went to Yale, you know). But although there have been several panther sightings, no one seems to have pinned down the cats’ exact location. Happily, the town of Sneden’s Landing
New Jersey New York, where most of the sightings have occurred, has brought in an expert: Shane Hobel, a Brown-educated investigator “who applies the ancient Apache art of tracking to police investigations.” The New Yorker went along with him on a mission, and was with Hobel when he discovered evidence of animals living in the woods.
Hobel dipped into the bushes, crawling into a sort of juniper den. He pointed out a hardened “bile pile”: “It was frothing and fresh the day we saw it.” There was a scratch on a tree trunk. He poked with a knife at a pile of dried scat and held it up close. “We call this V.S.P.O.P., for ‘very strange pile of poo.’ ”
Oddly, despite this rock-hard evidence and multiple sightings, The New Yorker seems skeptical of the panthers’ existence. Some residents feel that the sightings “fulfill some metaphysical or metaphorical craving,” they harrumph, and plus, the area has a history of odd animal sightings. For instance, “in the fifties, locals used to spot a raccoon wearing a red bow tie.” Personally, that little factoid just makes us believe even more. Didn’t everyone dress up more in the fifties?
Panthers: Call us.