Over the past months there was huge speculation that there was a big cats roaming around the English countryside. With the latest sighting taking place in January in Gloucestershire when a walker came across the carcass of a deer that appeared to have been attacked and consumed by a large predator. There have been many sightings in the past but this one was taken very seriously and the carcass was taken for testing to see if any DNA could be found to prove that it was a big cat that had attacked. In this case the tests proved that it was not a big cat that had attacked the deer but with so many sightings over the years we thought it would be interesting to look at past tales and ask the question, could there be big cats in the UK?
This video would suggest yes.
Within the UK there is a large focus on countryside conservation which has led to many areas being protected creating beautiful countryside spaces for people to enjoy. These untouched forests and pastures are perfect habitat that could support a larger predator. The majority of sightings within the UK have leaned towards the big cats being panthers and pumas. The largest question has to be where they came from? They could have escaped from wildlife parks or possibly from private collections. Although the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 requires anyone looking to own these animals would require to have a license.
One of the more famous reports is the Beast Of Exmoor. First reports began in the late 70′s with sightings of a large cat like animal with a long tail standing low to the ground with dark grey to black fur, sized roughly between four to six feet in length. These reports all vary with people claiming that the animal has brown fur. One report also claims that the animal has green eyes after it ran out in front of a car while crossing the road. Reports continued to come in as we entered the 80′s with reports of around 80 sheep being slaughtered by a cat like animal which left behind confusing tracks and marks. Some researchers believed that the animal was a cross between a puma that had mated with a leopard. In 1988 the royal marines were called into do a massive sweep in search of the animal, they found nothing. After further research it was believed that it was in fact a fox that had killed the sheep. Despite this conclusion more reports of big cats continued to come in and further testing in the mid 90′s revealed that indigenous animals could have carried out the killing. This does not prove that there are big cats but it suggests that there could be.
With so many reported sightings it is hard to believe that there is nothing behind them. And that so many people could be mistaking an overgrown house cat for a panther or puma. If you find your self spotting or coming face to face with a large cat there are steps that can be taken to manage the situation and hopefully have you both leaving unharmed.
- Keep Calm – Panicking will aggravate the animal and may be seen as threatening behaviour.
- Walk slowly away while facing the animal – Don’t run, this may lead to the animal giving chase and you will not be faster.
- No sudden noises or movements – This will not scare the animal away and again may be seen as threatening.
So are there big cats prowling around the UK? I think we have to go with inconclusive, there are so many reported sightings that it can’t be dismissed as nothing but without the proof or an actual decent image or video there is still an air of legend about the big cats that might be in the UK. We put together a bundle of images and news reports with regards to the latest sighting in Gloucestershire and a a look at which big cats people think might be out roaming the countryside.
They might well be here.