CORSICA, France — Wildlife officials discovered a potentially new species of cat prowling around remote areas on the French island of Corsica and, so far, scientists have counted 16 of the golden-striped felines.
"We believe that it's a wild natural species which was known but not scientifically identified because it's an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habits," Pierre Benedetti, the chief environmental technician with the National Hunting and Wildlife Office, told the AFP.
The cats are bigger than a normal house cat, measuring about 35 inches long from head to tail when fully grown. They have bushy ringed tails, usually with a black tip, sharp, highly developed canine teeth, very wide ears and short whiskers, Benedetti said.
Other distinguishing features, according to the AFP, include stripes on the from legs, very dark hind legs and a russet stomach.
Benedetti said islanders started calling the animal a cat-fox because of its size and its bushy tail.
Cat-foxes were first captured in 2016 for study and tagging, but stories about the animals have made the rounds on Corsica for generations.
Wildlife officials hope to get the animal recognized and protected in the next few years.
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