Some residents are concerned and one family pet is dead after a pair of serval cats escaped from their enclosure in the Corcan-Meadowood area near Qualicum Beach on Sunday.
Laurel Bablitz and Bill Edwards were able to recover a male serval on Monday, but sadly not before it killed a neighbour’s 19-year-old domestic cat. Edwards managed to catch the male with a fishing net, Bablitz said.
“He was actually just across the street in the neighbour’s yard, who has a chain-link in fence and he was in the corner between the two chain link fences,” Bablitz said.
The female is still at large, but has been sighted numerous times by neighbours, including once this morning (Oct. 6).
The BC SPCA said, in a social media post, that residents should remain vigilant and keep dogs on-leash while walking and keep domestic cats indoors or in secure enclosures. Servals are slightly larger than a medium-sized dog, on average.
Bablitz said she believes the missing serval is within about a kilometre of its home. She added it has been spotted several times and Edwards once got close enough to almost catch it with a net.
She realized the cats escaped when she came outside for a cigarette Sunday morning.
“Panic. Totally panicked,” she said. “How do we get them back? This is a big area.”
Bablitz said she believes the animals were let out of their cage intentionally, possibly by an animal rights activist, because she does not think it is possible for the cats to open the cage’s door.
She pointed to a number of comments, on social media posts related to the servals’ escape, criticizing the idea of keeping the animals as pets in the first place.
The female serval may be pregnant and if she is, would only be a few weeks along, Bablitz said.
Bablitz and Edwards have had the animals for about six or seven weeks. Bablitz said they plan to increase their security measures.
“We’re going to be putting a very secure lock on that gate,” Bablitz said.
On Sunday, she called the BC Conservation Service, but was told to contact the SPCA because the servals are pets and not wild. Because it was Sunday she could not get through to anyone.
A neighbour contacted Leanne Salter, director for Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Area F, who brought her own traps out and helped set them up with bait.
Servals are not listed under provincial Controlled Alien Species regulations, meaning they can be legally owned in B.C., depending on municipal bylaws.