Eye witnesses suggest panther is on the loose |Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|08/04/05 at 20:47:35|richard_f|xx|0|86.131.96.23|From the Stroud New and Journal: 21 July2005
Eye witnesses suggest panther is on the loose
by Sian Davies

COULD there be a panther lurking in the Five Valleys? Recent
sightings of large cats in the area have raised speculation among
residents.

Retired policeman Roy Harvey, 73, from Amberley, believes he spotted
what looked like a black panther in his garden early one morning.

He said: "You occasionally see these reports in the paper about
people spotting large cats and I had always read them with a degree
of cynicism, until I saw a large cat - the size of a big fox - in our
garden.

"I watched it for about two minutes until it disappeared. It was a
lot bigger than your average domestic cat with dark brown to black
fur."

There have been other rumoured sightings of large cats around the
Five Valleys in Rodborough, Woodchester, Minchinhampton, Nailsworth
and Nymphsfield as well as in nearby Cirencester.

Mr Harvey said he couldn't believe his eyes when he saw it.

He added: "I'd never seen anything like that in my life. I was a
policeman for 25 years and saw plenty of foxes and badgers while on
night duty, but this was different."

Danny Bamping, of the British Big Cats Society (corr), said
Gloucestershire is a 'hot spot' for sightings.

He added: "Stroud has had several of these incidents in the past
including an attack on a domestic dog.

"When looking out for big cats people should look for very large paw
prints without claw marks because cats walk with their claws
retracted.

"But it is pretty hard to mistake most big cats, such as leopards,
with domestic animals."

He added that common areas for these sightings are near woodland
because it provides food and cover, as well as near railway tracks
and quarries.

It is believed that these animals could be the offspring of large
cats kept as domestic pets in the UK during the 1960s and 1970s.

Because of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, which came into force in
1976, many people released their large cats into the wild because
they did not want to pay for a licence.

Stroud News and Journal 20/7/05


||