An exotic cat that had been roaming around Chester County's exclusive Radnor Hunt country for the last month was shot and killed as it attacked a flock of chickens in their coop.

The cat, a native of Africa known as a serval, was killed by a farm manager on Tuesday evening after he received permission from authorities at the Pennsylvania Game Commission, according to a release from the agency.

Willistown Township Supervisor Robert Lange said that the animal was a pet owned by the Gansky family of Providence Road in the township.

A woman who answered the phone at the Gansky home and who would not give her name said that Jarrett Gansky, 20, was the pet's owner. She said that one day the cat, which had been declawed, slipped out the door and took off. She said that Jarrett Gansky had no comment.

George Heim, caretaker of Garrett Mill Farm near Malvern, said yesterday that a farm worker notified him around dinnertime Tuesday that an animal thought to be a bobcat had been locked inside the farm's 25-bird chicken coop.

"It had lunged at him and hissed at him," Heim told the Associated Press. "He got scared and didn't know what to do." The birds "were squawking bloody murder."

Heim shot the serval with a .22-caliber rifle, but told the AP his heart sank when he realized the cat was wearing a collar.

Sightings of the animal, which resembles a small cheetah, were frequent, and they were the talk of the town.

"It was seen on our farm about two weeks ago," said Lange, who owns Sugartown Strawberries, a popular farm for picking strawberries in the summer and pumpkins in the fall. "A hunter who was hunting deer on our farm saw it walk right under his tree stand."

Two or three days ago, Lange said, it was spotted on Delchester Road. Earlier, he said, it had caused an accident when it scampered across busy Providence Road and a driver lost control of her car.

"It's a shame that it got loose," he said.

Yesterday, Game Commission officials retrieved the carcass and took it to their Southeast Region Office in Reading. The incident is under investigation, according to the release.