Thursday, June 01, 2023

Proof there are big cats living in the English countryside?

From Gloucestershire Live:

DNA from a black hair caught on a barbwire fence in Gloucestershire following a sheep attack has been offered as 'definitive proof' big cats are roaming the British countryside. The single strand was sent off for testing after being recovered from a farm where there had been some "unusual predatory" activity.

Suspicion was raised when video footage of a large black animal was also captured only a few miles away from where the sample was taken. And documentary-makers, who had been investigating sightings across the UK, say the test has now come back 'positive' and confirmed the existence of black panthers and other big cats living in the UK.

A forensic laboratory took on the species identification task and used mitochondrial DNA analysis to ascertain a 99 per cent match to a big cat species.

The same website has a piece by Rick Minter, who runs the Big Cat Conversations podcast:

Many landowners and farmers seem tolerant ... perhaps because the cats seem to prefer deer to sheep as their main large prey. "We have big cats - and have to learn to live with them" said a Gloucestershire farmer at one of my talks. 

On the next door farm, two people had separately reported a tan coloured puma drinking from a water trough. I asked the farm family if I could tether a camera trap there - the chance to film at strategic points on a large cat’s route should not be missed. Reluctantly, permission was declined.

The farm buildings were only a field away, and hosted a sensitive business with regular visitors. Like so many properties, these people felt that gossip on big cats was best avoided.

You can here the Liberal Democrat peer Paul Tyler interviewed on the Big Cat Conversations episode on Bodmin and Exmoor Beasts - the inside stories.

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