Last Thursday, a woman in Charlestown, Indiana and her boyfriend stayed up all night, armed with a rifle, to hunt down whatever it was that had been attacking small animals in her neighborhood. After spotting and shooting a creature prowling in the shadows by the woman's pool, they were shocked to find that they'd just killed a leopard, an animal that's not native to North America, much less Indiana.

The woman, who didn't want to be identified, mentioned the story to her friend and neighbor Donna Duke, who then told ABC affiliate WDRB about the strange kill. Officials at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirmed that a leopard had been found on the woman's property. Duke said the woman was worried about a recent streak of attacks against cats and dogs in the neighborhood.

"She's got cats that are basically her family," Duke said. "She was trying to protect her babies.”

The woman contacted a local wildlife official, who told her that the attacks were probably from a bobcat.

“But it was not a bobcat,” Duke said, noting that the leopard let out a “horrible squeal” after it was shot.

Phil Bloom, director of communications for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, told WDRB that the cat had been id'd as a leopard.

"The cat in these photographs has been identified tentatively as a leopard," Bloom said. "Perhaps an immature cat about 9 months old. DNR is attempting to determine who it belonged to, or where it came from."

Bloom believes the leopard must have been someone's pet, though authorities have no idea whose. The owner of a nearby wild life refuge denied that the leopard was his. So, people living in Indiana, if you're missing your pet leopard and reading this, we have bad news.

[Image via WDRB]

To contact the author of this post, email