UPDATE: Evi the bobcat returns home after week-long romp
UPDATE: Channel 3 has learned that Evi, the bobcat that went missing from Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center has been found.
A post on the center's website proclaimed:
'Update: June 17, 2019 11:00AM Evi is home! She walked into her enclosure a few minutes before 11am this morning. THANK YOU to all who helped in this effort!'
The car was spotted several times on trails on Lookout Mountain by game cameras, according to the center.
The center also said they received information for an individual that helped determine the identity of a suspect involved in the case.
PREVIOUS STORY: Evi the bobcat is still missing. It's now been four days since she was last seen at the Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center.
Evi's handler, Taylor Berry, began searching along the Guild Trail on Lookout Mountain at 4 a.m. on Friday. Over the past two days, he says he has covered 21 miles. He says he's not giving up until he finds her. We spoke to Berry over the phone. He did not want to take a break from the search to meet us in person saying he did not want to miss an opportunity to find the bobcat.
“I've been making lots of loops in an area that she is supposedly in or has been seen in,” he said.
He says this is not the first time she has been stolen from her "home.” At six months old, he says someone stole her from the wild.
“They had realized that they had made a mistake and turned her into a rehab facility to see if she could ever be released and this facility deemed her unreleasable and she found a permanent home with us,” Berry explained.
Now three years later, Berry says their bond is strong. It's why he says he was speechless when he found out she was missing.
“It's like something got ripped away from me. I mean taking care of her is part of who I am.”
Tish Gailmard, the director of wildlife, says someone broke into their facility Monday night and Evi got away.
“We think they paddled in on kayak or canoe onto Lookout creek and accessed our property from the creek,” she said. “These people or persons scaled the fence. Forcibly entered the eagle enclosure and forcibly entered the bobcat enclosure.”
Multiple agencies are working to learn more. The person or people who attempted to take Evi could face federal charges.
Berry remains concerned for Evi's life and her ability to survive on her own. He says he's grateful for the community's help.
“Knowing how much people are behind this really at least for me it helps me keep going,” Berry said.
Berry is asking that people avoid searching and crowding the trail. He says that could spook Evi and force her into hiding, which would make the search more difficult.
If anyone spots on the trail, call or send a picture to 423-309-9969.