DEFRA to look at ‘big cat attack’ claims

DEFRA HAS been called on to investigate further claims that a big cat may have killed a sheep in Gloucestershire.
The scattered remains of the sheep were found at Osbournes Farm, Cromhall, where Paul and Judi Terrett kept their flock of pedigree Jacobs.

“There was nothing much left, only a few bones,” Mrs Terrett told FARMERS WEEKLY. Half the skull, the spine, the front legs, pelvis and the ribs were left, surrounded by the fleece, which had been ripped up and spread out in a 20ft circle.

The bones were stripped clean and all of the innards had gone.

“The farm is in an area where there are a lot of woods and a number of quarries, so it would be possible for a big cat to stay out of sight.”

Mr Terret said he was distraught at the sight, but grateful that the rest of the flock was unscathed.

Although Mr Terrett was keeping an open mind on the attack he has come across a big cat in the area before.

“I saw a big cat about four or five years ago and my sons and I also saw one crossing the road two years ago at Christmas time.”

Unfortunately, the evidence at the site where the Jacob was attacked was sparse.

“There was not much to go on here because the ground was hard and there were no footprints left,” Mr Terrett said.

“We have been told that if it was a dog, fox or badger that had attacked the sheep there would have been teeth marks. DEFRA could not confirm whether the sheep was killed by a big cat, but they wouldn’t come and look. They didn’t take it seriously,” said Mr Terrett.

But a DEFRA spokeswoman said: “We take every single report very seriously. But, to date, there is absolutely no evidence of big cats living wild in the UK.”

Landowners can ring the DEFRA helpline, if they suspect a big cat is at large, on 08459 33 55 77.