HOUSTON - Many people are expressing concern online about a Craigslist post advertising a cougar for sale in Houston.
The individual who’s phone number is listed on the post for the exotic “jungle cat” is telling conflicting stories about the ad.
The woman who answered when KHOU 11 called the number on the post Thursday morning said, “It’s a scam,” and then hung up the phone.
Another man who says he called the number Wednesday night said the woman he spoke with was indeed selling a cougar.
“I just wanted to confirm that this was real before I got in touch with wildlife or anyone else about this,” said Gabe Stockstill. “This is not something you want to play around with.”
Stockstill said during his conversation with the seller he told her he wanted to borrow the feline for a photoshoot in a wooded area near his home.
The seller told him she and her husband were moving out of town in a hurry and were trying to sell the animal quickly, but she would consider allowing the cat to do the photoshoot if it had not been sold by this weekend.
KHOU 11 confirmed the story through text message correspondence between the seller and Stockstill.
Stockstill says his plan was to get the animal to the location with a photographer, and while the owner was distracted, call the police.
The post was removed from Craigslist within an hour of being contacted by KHOU 11.
Stockstill says the seller did not respond to him after that and he contacted the Texas Wildlife Commission to file a report.
“I could just tell instantly that a cat like that in Houston, if it got into the wrong hands, it could cause a lot of damage.” said Stockstill.
The Houston Zoo and the Big Cat sanctuary both confirmed the animal in the post is a cougar.
KHOU 11 legal analyst professor Gerald Treece says it is illegal to sell, buy or possess a cougar in Texas without having the rare permit issued by the Texas Wildlife Commission.
Treece says the seller may be breaking federal law as it is a violation of the endangered species act to sell the animal on the black market.
“This is a big, big money business in Texas,” said Treece. “And so I’m asking the viewers to be very careful. Maybe you want to have a cougar or a python, well control yourself.”