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Big cats in Britain

Last post Mon, Jul 9 2012 11:16 by Big Cats GB. 95 replies.
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  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 13:56

    Big cats in Britain

    FW has been contacted by a firm of publishers called Whittles - they're publishing a book called Big Cats - Facing Britain’s Wild Predators by Rick Minter. I'm looking forward to reading it as I'm fascinated by this topic.

    And a colleague of mine, Sarah Trickett on the FW livestock desk, is planning to put together a feature on the subject so we'd be interested to hear views.

    I'm an "agnostic" - although if pushed would probably say I do, rather than don't, believe these creatures are living wild in Britain.

    I know we've discussed this subject before but seeing as that thread was a couple of years ago, I thought I'd start a new one...

     

    For a round-up of quirky rural news see my blog Field Day
  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 18:28 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Tim, I am surprised that anyone needs convincing. They are out there, have been for years.

    Rick Minter is a very knowledgeable person regarding big cats in Britain. I had not heard of him before joining in the previous thread but did a wee bit of googling at the time, and he was kind enough to enter into email correspondence with me.  

  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 18:48 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    They definitely exist. I have never seen one, but people I know and trust say they've seen them. There were a lot of sightings in this area about 3 or 4 yrs ago but nothing since.
  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 19:14 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Odd that one has not been shot or hit by a car in all this time.
  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 19:24 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    ploughshare, But they have been. See Page 4 on the link Tim gave to the previous thread for my own experience of a big cat - an excerpt from a book I was writing at the time. I eventually decided there was an "official" policy of denying their existence so as not to affect tourism or alarm "the natives".
  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 19:47 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     In the past i've done my share of being sceptical of  big cat sightings until a few years ago when i was returning home in the middle of the night (no it wasn't on my way home from the pub) when i turned the corner at the bottom of our road & crouched in the middle of the road startled by my headlights was a full grown lynx. If anyone had told me they had seen it i would have laughed at them but there was no mistaking it.

    It came up in conversation a few months ago with a retired farmer who used to live just down the road & he reminded of a story that i overheard my parents talking quietly about one night when i came home from school 30 odd years ago. He'd shot a big cat in his barn early one morning but daren't report it as he didn't have a licence for his gun at the time so had to keep it quiet. The animal he described was exactly the same as the one i saw about 4 yrs ago. It suggests to me that they are breeding out there because if it had been a pair of them that someone had turned out when the dangerous animals act came into force surely the other one would have expired before i saw it 4 yrs ago.

    I'm still paranoid, every time i come around that corner late at night now expecting that as i turn the corner i may see it again

  • Wed, Jan 4 2012 23:35 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     We've got one round here. I've seen it as have my aunt and our neighbour (though they may both have been pi**ed at the time). It's taken a few lambs we think but nothing larger, and not enough to go on a crazed hunt for it.

    But when I saw it, it was standing in the lane, and as I approached it jumped up the hedge. Now, as those of you who have visited Cornwall will know, our hedges stand from 1.5m up to 3 m high. The hedge it jumped up was a good 2 metres high and, with it's front paws on the top of the hedge, it's tail was still lying on the road!

    It was big, black and not from round these parts!!!!!

    "Dogs look up to us, cats look down on us, but pigs treat us as equals." (Sir Winston Churchill)
  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 0:20 In reply to

    • mursal
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Must be shocking quiet in the office, is it?


  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 0:42 In reply to

    • Malcolm
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Slow news day?
    < not for print >
  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 9:57 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Mursal/Malcolm... you old cynicsBig Smile

    Actually, it is quite a slow news time of year! Oxford Farming Conference is on, I suppose.

    I am genuinely interested in this whole big cat debate though. What I struggle with is why it hasn't ever been conclusively proved (scientifically confirmed carcass etc). It always seems to be grainy "possible" photos, paw prints that COULD belong to a big cat. And a lot of very clever scientists/wildlife experts have been involved in it.. 

    As I say, though, I'm not a non-believer. I probably think 60-40% they do exist.

    For a round-up of quirky rural news see my blog Field Day
  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 10:18 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     As i say every time i come around that corner now i hope to see it again & one night a couple of years later i came around the corner & saw something marked very similar at the other side of the road but no bigger than a domestic moggy. I was going far 2 fast to stop so did a handbrake turn in the middle of the road (i was quite proud of the way i did it at the time to say it wasn't plannedSmile) & put the lights straight back onto it thinking it may be a baby lynx & mummy may be lurking in the bushes. It sat there looking at me with a confused look & on closer inspection it had a blue collar with a bell on it.

    The 1st one was definitely real enough though, about a metre long with long pointy ears with long tufts of hair on top of them. I wish i could see it again & maybe get a photo or summat but i know it's one of those once in a lifetime sightings 

  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 12:10 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    You've only got to do a very quick scan of the internet - and it does throw up lots of supposed sightings. Just googled the topic and recent articles inlcude:

    A teenager claims to have seen one in Leicestershire

    A supposed sighting by a pensioner in the Lake District

    A report of one in Somerset

    And here's how the Daily Mail picked up on something in Rick Minter's book - that the MOD 'hid evidence' of the creatures

    For a round-up of quirky rural news see my blog Field Day
  • Thu, Jan 5 2012 18:42 In reply to

    • 2601051
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    • driest spot in the UK

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     

    I agree with ploughshare, how come no one has ever found a dead one?

    As for the comment about the authorities hushing them up, I'll file that one with Prince Philip murdering Diana and NASA faking the moon landings. 

     

    Essex peasant
  • Fri, Jan 6 2012 23:33 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    2601051, I do not take too kindly to being accused of lying, or that my wife is lying, or other people (some of whom are now dead) and that is precisely what you are saying if you refuse to believe that we saw a "big cat".  Read my post on the link Tim gives in the OP. I understand the one I referred to as being shot several years earlier was in the museum in Inverness.

    The occasions I referred to are my only definite knowledge of such animals in the UK, so I do not claim there are huge numbers about, but nobody can claim that they do not exist. Proving non existence is an impossibility.

  • Fri, Jan 6 2012 23:58 In reply to

    • robsy01
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    2601051:

    I agree with ploughshare, how come no one has ever found a dead one?

    As for the comment about the authorities hushing them up, I'll file that one with Prince Philip murdering Diana and NASA faking the moon landings. 

    they will hush anything up just like their expenses until it finally came out
  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 8:56 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     There is some alleged big cat footage on the BBC website,

     http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/8172064.stm

     

    www.thelittlecheeseshop.co.uk
  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 9:38 In reply to

    • 2601051
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    • driest spot in the UK

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    My word Scott, he looks a proper scary monster !

    Just for the record, I'm not accusing anyone of being a liar, all I'm saying is how come no one has ever come across a dead one or shot one for that matter.

    As for Government conspiracy theories, they are not to my taste but if others want to believe them then thats their perogative. There are many who think Governments hush up UFO landings, good for them but I'm not convinced . 

    I used to live in a house reputed by previous occupants to be haunted with regular sightings but to my disappointment I never saw a thing - but my old dad had an explanation why - 'Ghosts', he said. 'only appear to those who believe in them'.  

      

      

     

    Essex peasant
  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 13:52 In reply to

    • robsy01
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    the only big cat sightings you believe are in the jungle book

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 15:03 In reply to

    • Malcolm
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    It's only a matter of time before one is found dead, isn't it, robsy01?
    < not for print >
  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 16:16 In reply to

    • Dick
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    On my way home, riding my pushbike from the Robin Hood I do keep a very keen lookout for big cats but so far even half a dozen lage Jack Danniels dont seem to be of any help

    The only strange animal I have seen was a Racoon walking round one of my fishing lakes a couple of months ago. One of my customers also saw it and came to tell me that he had just seen a racoon which I suppose was someones pet which had escaped, because it was totally unafraid of humans , although I guess it would have a different story had my Jack Russel been with me.

    If there are plenty of these big cats around how none have been knocked down on the roads?

    Dick.

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 18:03 In reply to

    • 2658336
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Dick:
    If there are plenty of these big cats around how none have been knocked down on the roads?

    Dick.

    That is indeed odd.

    Some of the sightings will have been large domestic cats in odd lighting or some other odd circumstances.

    I'm afraid I know that some of the sightings have been well-set-up hoaxes.

    Some people genuinely believe they've seen them, but have over active imaginations.

    When all of that is said and done, there are still some good, professional observers who claim to have seen them, but then again I've never seen a remotely convincing photograph. Let's just assume they do exist in small but significant numbers.

    The absence of carcases or skeletons is odd, but to be fair, I know there are several foxes, several badgers, and rather more roe deer living within a mile of my holding, and I've never stumbled upon a skeleton or carcase of any of them, except a badger every year or two as road-kill. If big cats have good traffic avoidance skills, then the lack of bodies is more plausible in this context, but I'd still like to know exactly how or why, and I still find it a tricky one to be sure about.

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 18:30 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Dick:
    If there are plenty of these big cats around how none have been knocked down on the roads?

    I don't think anybody is saying there are plenty of them. I think they do exist, but in very small numbers. The ones seen in our area a few years ago were said to be Puma's. According to a local lad who is very interested in them, they have a territory of 50 mile radius from their base. Therefore, if their base was in Builth Wells for example, they could be in Aberystwyth one day and Worcester the next. This would explain why there are so few sightings.

     My neighbour who saw one said he'd never seen anything take off so fast. He said at that rate, it could have covered 50 miles in a night very easily. When you speak to someone who's genuinely seen one, there can be no doubt that they're telling the truth from the way they describe what they've seen. My neighbour described it so vividly that I could almost claim to have seen it myself.

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 19:10 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

     i have never seen one myself but can confirm that i know of one that had been shot.

    about 12-13 years ago. there was a sighting of a pair of panthas that had escaped from a local zoo. (escaping big cats really isnt as uncommon as you think but trust me they try to keep it quiet for fear of people panicking)   they went missing for months untill one was finally shot  the other was never found. what if it had young in the months it was missing.. more to the point why was the other one never found??

     

    the countryside is so vast and machienry and vehicles make so much noise  one would be able to hear humans a mile off and scarper.

    one theory i have for some sightings is wild boar. i know there are plenty about there unusual and can get very big. and we all can have over active imaginations at times.

     

    personally ill wait untill i shoot one myself.

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 20:18 In reply to

    Re: Big cats in Britain

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    Firstly I believe that people who say they have seen a puma/cougar type of cat really believe it and are not making it up in most cases.

    I saw a film about a crop spraying pilot called Abercrombie Dick (Any relation Dick??) who lived in Kenya.  One day he took off and in his mirror he could see a snake behind him on the back ledge.  He was on the radio to the ground crew and they asked him to describe it .  He said that it was huge and must have been about seven feet long.   Every time he put the nose of the plane down it slid towards his neck so he pulled the stick back and it slid back again.  Eventually he landed and jumped off the plane in panic.  The ground crew gingerly went up to the cockpit and after some time retrieved a tiny grass snake, completely harmless and about a foot long.

    The point is that when a human being is on edge, for instance in the woods on their own at night, it is our instinct to magnify anything  which alarms us.  Why is it that rats in the farmyard are always “Bloody great rats the size of a cat!”  Have you every seen a tiny rat??

    This coupled with the scare of the moment, whether it be flying saucers, bodysnatchers,  Jack the Ripper, Men in Black or the Loch Ness Monster all prey on the mind.  Many of those who have seen a flying saucer or the Loch Ness Monster really believe that they have seen it.

    The farmer with the three dead sheep does not convince me that the animals were not taken by a pack of dogs.  Surely a big cat would just kill one animal and drag it away up a tree or in a den.  At least it would eat it and not bother chasing two or three others.

    The cat in the picture on the railway line is hardly convincing.  Firstly it is very poor in quality and secondly the animal would hardly straddle the railway lines which does not make it very big.

    Why would the ministry want to keep quiet about a big cat being on the prowl?  It would be a feather in their cap to catch or kill the beast to show that they are capable of protecting the community.

    There are bound to be escapees from zoos or private collectors from time to time but I would find it hard to believe that there are tens of these creatures living and breeding in the wild in the UK.

    I am a possibilarian at heart but I would need a bit more hard evidence first please.

  • Sat, Jan 7 2012 21:22 In reply to

    • old mcdonald
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    Re: Big cats in Britain

    Dick, Everybody knows that there are no raccoons in Britain. Nobody has ever shot one, none have been killed on the road, you do not have a positive proof photograph of one. Or a video.

    But I believe you. I honestly believe that you saw one, in the wild, in Britain. Why should I doubt you? And why should anybody else suggest that you only thought you saw a raccoon and it was actually a squirrel or something else and could not possibly have been a raccoon?

    Now, read my post on P4 of the previous thread (link given above by Tim - in the opening of which he says he believes there are big cats out there, now he is not so sure. Why the change of mind Tim?)  Do you believe me? Straight yes or no please. This was not a fleeting glimpse in the dark, but a daylight sighting at close range and viewed for several minutes through a pair of 20X binoculars and a 3" telescope on a tripod. The next day's sightings were even closer, although with the naked eye and not by me.

    I do agree with ploughshare that a cat will not kill several animals at one go. I think I am right in saying that all species of dogs will, but not a cat. 

    References and analogies with mythical creatures and the supernatural are irrelevant and insulting to a serious discussion. I have never actually met anyone who believes in the Loch Ness Monster (and I lived nearby for a few years) or ghosts, or flying saucers. But these people exist too I suppose.

    In the previous thread I asked a question to which nobody responded. Roughly, it was have you seen a Capercaillie, pine marten, sturgeon, wildcat, adder, etc. - several species which are quite rare, and even unknown in some parts, but nobody argues about their existence. Why refuse to accept that there are big cats too?

    So far as finding one is concerned, how many of you who refuse to believe have seen a naturally dead fox, badger, hedgehog, or deer of any species? I have never seen any of them. I also referred in the previous thread to the unfortunate incident from about 2000 when a light aircraft, carrying two people, left Inverness in good weather and heading for (I think) Stornoway. Half an hour after take off air traffic control lost contact. Obviously an enormous search and rescue operation was set up.  Nothing was found. Why not? The flight path was known, approximate distance from Inverness was known as well as approximate airspeed so it was known for certain that if the aircraft had crashed it was on the mainland and not over the sea - and in a very restricted area. All sorts of suggestions about the total disappearance were put forward. From memory it was more than a year later when someone discovered, quite by accident, the wreckage with the remains of the two occupants. Given the small number of big cats that one can expect to be around at any one time is it it any wonder that nobody inadvertently finds a dead body if a concerted effort in a small area fails to find an aeroplane?

    Where I now live I believe that there are Iberian lynx, mongooses, civets, and vultures within at most 20 miles. Now you can hardly miss a flying plank in the sky, yet I have never seen any of them. I have seen a beech marten - once. I have also seen wild pigs once, but they are regular visitors to my property. The mess they make is proof of their regular visitations.

    Over the last 3 or 4 weeks I have had something consuming large quantities of rat poison (several 25g sachets per night) from my permanent bait stations. Its droppings are about the size and consistency of a domestic cat, but it just leaves them on the ground, no attempt to cover up like a cat. About 10 days, or rather nights, ago 7 of my 9 pigeons disappeared from their loft - a free fly situation with the access about 6 feet from the ground in a high metal door that is always bolted. No signs of any disturbance. The two remaining refuse to return to the loft and roost on the roof ridge of the house. What is it? I am not prepared to even attempt a guess.

    I take a stroll in the dark around the yard and along my entrance road every night it is not raining heavily, have done for the 9 years I have been here, and apart from the one instance of the pigs have never seen a nocturnal animal - salamanders and toads often, but no mammals. Are there no nocturnal wild animals in rural Portugal? Of course there are, but I never see them despite looking every night.

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