A BIG cat with “scary green eyes” has been spotted in a village where several pets are reported to have disappeared.
Harrowbarrow, Cornwall, has been terrorised by what locals are calling a puma or panther, and after a dog was attacked they fear children could be next.
A black panther like this one has reportedly been spotted in Harrowbarrow, Cornwall[/caption]
Huge paw prints have been reported in the area and police have confirmed they belong to a big cat.
A local farmer has also apparently discovered its ‘den’ on his land.
Engineer James Stephenson’s Labrador Marley was found covered in blood with a huge claw mark in the garden.
James, 23, then spotted the cat’s “large screen eyes” reflecting in his torch light at the bottom of the garden and said the moment was ‘very scary’.
We’re not sure if it’s a panther or a puma but it has been confirmed that it is a big cat
He said:”Over the last couple of weeks we have seen this large black cat walking down the back wall of the field at the back of our garden.
“It’s on a stone wall, often carrying something the size of a lamb.
“We’re not sure if it’s a panther or a puma but it has been confirmed that it is a big cat.”
He said rescue dog Marley was attacked in the garden and ended up with a deep gash on his front leg and covered in blood, and on his left shoulder was “a big black claw mark, as if a muddy claw had scraped down the side of him”.
DANGER TO CHILDREN
James added: “It’s a danger to children. It will take a dog. So far I’ve heard about four or five cats in Harrowbarrow that have gone in the past week.
“One neighbour said there used to be a large amount of deer in the field and there hasn’t been any for four or five months.”
Special forensic officers took casts of the prints in James’ garden, which were five inches wide, and said they are from a big cat.
Why are there big cats roaming our countryside?
Wild animal expert Jonathan Downes , the head of the Centre for Fortean Zoology, said: “Many big cat sightings are of animals that were kept as pets and released.
“Or they may be ones that escaped from zoos or were purposely let out into the wild.
“I am certain that big cats such as leopards and pumas must be breeding, as they do not live 40 years in the wild.
“Also, there have been occasional sightings of females with cubs.”
There have been hundreds of big cat sightings in the UK in recent years, but it’s still a mystery as to where they come from.
Between 2010 and 2015, there were 455 sightings logged by police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Norfolk has had the most reported sightings, with 57 being logged.
Neighbouring county Suffolk has had 26 reports of big cats.
UK BIG CAT SIGHTINGS
A black panther has repeatedly been seen stalking the countryside in both counties.
In Devon and Cornwall there have been 28 sightings – and five reports of farm animals being killed by big cats.
Well-known big cats include the Beast of Cumbria, which is said to be a large non-native black cat much like a panther.
The Wildcat of Warwickshire is a big cat which has been reported roaming the countryside in the West Midlands county.
There’s also the Creature of Cornwall, which is reportedly a stalking lion.
Devon and Cornwall police said they had received a single report of a big cat sighting in the area on March 29th.
A spokesman said:”We contacted the RSPCA for advice and took a cast of the print which they confirmed was the pad of a large cat.”
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An RSPCA spokesman said: “The RSPCA has been contacted about a suspected big cat sighting in Harrowbarrow, Cornwall, last week.
“Our officer attended after reports that a labrador had been scratched by a large, black cat. Thankfully, the dog is fine although he has scratch marks, and the owner is taking precautions to keep an eye on the dog in case of further sightings.
“We will continue to monitor the situation.”
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