The Fox Cat-Bobcat Test

Karen A. Fox and friends developed a new way to test whether—or not—a bobcat has a goodly amount of domestic cat inside it. They (Fox and friends) tell the story in a newly published study:

A Novel Test for Determination of Wild Felid-Domestic Cat Hybridization,” E.S. Chiu,  K. Fox, L. Wolfe, and S. Vandewoude, Forensic Science International: Genetics (2019): 102160. Fox and friends, based at Colorado State University and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, explain:

“In October 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife seized an animal believed to be an illegally possessed bobcat. The owner claimed the animal was a bobcat/domestic cat hybrid, exempted from license requirements. Burden of proof lay with CPW to determine the lineage of the animal. Commercial microsatellite arrays and DNA barcoding have not been developed for identification of bobcat/domestic cat hybrids, and limited time and resources prevented development of such tests for this application. Instead, we targeted endogenous feline leukemia virus (enFeLV) to quickly and inexpensively demonstrate the absence of domestic cat DNA in the contested animal. Using this assay, we were able to confirm that the contested animal lacked enFeLV, and therefore was not a domestic cat hybrid.”

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