Durness sighting of 'cat-like creature'|jon_downes|jon@cfz.org.uk|05/15/04 at 15:44:13|jon_downes|xx|0|4.34.191.96|Durness sighting of 'cat-like creature'
.:Story originally published by:.
The Northern Times, Ross-shire / Scotland - May 13.04

A mysterious cat-like creature is thought to be prowling round the Durness
area following a reported sighting and the discovery of large paw prints.

An American tourist claimed she spotted a strange creature with a "catlike"
gait walking on the road early one morning this week.
The New Hampshire woman, who has now left the area, stayed with her husband
at the Morven Guest House in Lerin on Tuesday and Wednesday night.
Proprietor Morag Mackenzie said her guest had spotted the strange creature
from the window of her upstairs bedroom at about five o'clock on Thursday
morning.

"She woke up early and her husband was sleeping. It was such a nice morning
that she just went and sat by the window with a book. She glanced out of the
window and saw this animal walking up the road past the house. It was no
distance at all from her, " said Mrs Mackenzie.
"She said it was a big, pure black animal with a long tail and cat-like gait
but it was definitely not a dog or a domestic cat. The sheep in the field
were really startled by it, and were just standing and staring. She was
totally shocked. She just couldn't believe it."
It is also understood further sightings of a strange animal at Sandwood Bay
have been reported recently to local police constable David Inglis,
Rhiconich, who was unavailable for comment this week.

The American visitor's sighting comes over a week after two local women, out
walking in a remote area, found a substantial number of unusually large paw
prints on the track they were following.
Local GP's wife Fiona Belbin and Gill Shiels were walking down the
seven-mile track at Strath Dionard, heading for Loch Dionard, when they made
the discovery on Sunday 2nd May.
Ms Shiels said they had come to a sandy, boggy part of the track when they
saw the paw prints, which struck them as too large for a domestic cat or
dog.
"Either side of the track at this stretch is complete bog. There was a whole
lot of paw prints - the animal had obviously just been walking along the
track. The prints struck us as unusual because they were so big, bigger than
a large dog would make, " she said.
"We followed them for a bit until they disappeared when the track became
rockier and less boggy."
Retired police officer John Cathcart, Inverness, has kept a detailed log of
reported sightings of such unidentified animals since his involvement in the
investigation into the puma captured in Cannich in 1980.
Following sightings last year in East Sutherland of a creature similar to
that described by the American visitor to Durness, he guessed that it could
be a black panther.
He said at the time: "A black panther is, of course, totally alien in these
parts and its existence would be scoffed at by experts. However, all these
people who are reporting sightings cannot be wrong."
Mr Cathcart has asked people to be on the alert for possible evidence - such
as paw prints, hair caught on fences and dykes and fresh kill.
A local farm manager also believes a big cat may be on the prowl in the area
after one of his sheep was found dead and others badly mauled.
Keoldale Farm manager Jock Sutherland gathered in his flock, which had been
grazing in the Sandside area, at the start of April in preparation for
lambing.
He said: "We found one ewe dead and another with one of its ears ripped off.
Yet another had been bitten on the head and neck and other ewes came in with
various marks on them, as if they had been nipped lightly.
"We also had some ewes come in with broken legs, as if they had been
panicked. Whatever it is I just don't know, but it is definitely some sort
of beast."
Mr Sutherland said he had heard reports in the past of various sightings.
Two gamekeepers at Achfary claimed to have seen a strange catlike animal
crossing the road in their area a year ago, and a Kinlochbervie woman and
her son also reported spotting a large cat-like creature at New Year two
years ago in the Sandwood area.
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