Paws|Richard_F||04/22/04 at 16:41:03|Richard_F|xx|0||Paws

Apr 5 2004
Matt Withers, Daily Post

POLICE marksmen have been scouring North Wales farmland amid fears a "big cat" is on the prowl.

There have been several reported sightings of a large black cat near Llanddona Beach.

And several local horses have suffered mysterious injuries in the past month - the most recent attack coming only a week ago.

Armed police with the support of the force helicopter searched the area on Saturday.

Paw prints found at the spot are being examined by experts and local farmers are planning night shoots in a bid to catch the panther-like cat.

Local farmer Paul Gash, of Tyddyn Bach, Llanddona, spotted the cat as he was driving his tractor.

He said: "It was over the fence on land belonging to Tanrallt Wen and it was black and big - I mean big. Taller than the biggest Labrador dog and four to five feet nose to tail end.

"It sloped across the field, backed up to a tree and sprayed to mark it's territory, just like a domestic cat would do.

"Then it walked on, quite leisurely, and disappeared into undergrowth.

"It was really alarming and there is no way I would have gone towards it without a gun in my hand."

Mr Gash phoned Anne and Mike Roberts, who run the nearby Pentaran Stud, because the animal was on their land at Tanrallt Wen.

Mr Roberts said: "I grabbed a shotgun and we dashed there and made a preliminary search.

"Then, because of injuries we have had to our horses in recent years, we decided to call the police.

"An armed response unit came within ten minutes or so and a helicopter half an hour later

"Some local farmers and shooting men turned up to help but it was to no avail.

"The helicopter used it's image-seeking cameras over the area for a good half hour but picked up nothing."