Big Cat Sighting in West|Ed Malone|cfz@eclipse.co.uk|11/12/05 at 08:38:52|Obadiah|xx|0|86.131.96.96|From the Western Morning News (UK): 11 Nov. 2005

Driver gets the fright of his life as he spots 5foot puma in lane
by Peter Harrison

A delivery driver has described the frightening moment when he came face to
face with what he believes to have been a puma.

Cedric Munslow was heading along a quiet country road to his first customer
of the day when he spotted the beast at about 7.00 am yesterday.

Mr. Munslow said that as he was driving along the lane at Dunchideock, west
of Exeter, suddenly the large black cat walked straight across his path, and
he slammed on the brakes, stopping just five yards from the animal. He said:
"It was huge, much bigger than your average pet cat - about five feet long
and three feet high. The thing was so big, it managed to cross the road in
just three leaps.
"It went up the bank on the other side of the road, turned round and looked
straight at me, and then disappeared into the gorse.

"It was not scared because I was in my van, but there was no way I was going
to get out, not likely. It was no ordinary cat, it was big. I would not want
to get a blow-out down there, that would be too scary, now I know that thing
is about. "

Later that day, the puma was spotted by a second witness, just two miles
away at Kennford. A caller range Gemini Radio to say he had seen the big
cat.

Mr. Munslow 58, the former commercial manager of Torquay United said he had
heard stories of other similar sightings in Devon.

He said "I have always thought there must be some truth in it. Now I have
seen this with my own eyes, I am in no doubt, there really are big cats
running wild in Devon. It might have been dark and I might not have been
able to make out its eyes or teeth, but I was not seeing things, this was a
cat".

Danny Bamping, from Plymouth, speaking for the voluntary organisation, the
British Big Cat Society (BBCS) confirmed that the Westcountry was "somewhat
of a hotspot for big cats"because of the number of wild animals they could
prey on and the large expanse of the countryside.

He explained "Everyone tends to point to the Dangerous and Wild Animals Act
that required people to register their exotic animals at the time. A lot of
people released the cats into the wild because they had t apply for
expensive licences and go through a big application procedure and they could
not be bothered. Of course the government did not anticipate this when they
changed the law. "Big cats like pumas are very robust creatures and can
adapt to pretty much any environment, so I have no doubt that Cedric Munslow
did see a big cat of some description.

"Also there have been other sightings at that location The westcountry
provides perfect cover for large wild cats and there is lots of food for
them."

Mr. Bamping said big cats such as pumas moved very quickly and so it was
entirely feasible that the same cat spotted by Mr. Munslow was the animal
seen in Kennford, near Exeter the same morning.

Under British law, anyone who thinks that they have seen a big cat in the
wild, like a puma or leopard, is required to report it to the police.

Jo Barr, RSPCA spokesman said: "There are a lot of apparent sightings of big
cats in the area just like this one. But most of themn are unsubstantiated.
"However eople can keep big cats if they have an appropriate licence and
sometimes these have escaped. I suspect that most sightings are unlikely. I
would urge anyone who does think they have seen a big cat to report it
immediately to the police."

According to the BBCS, in the 15 months to March this year, there were 2052
big cat sightings nationally, of which 100 were in Devon, 96 in Cornwall and
69 in Somerset.

Among the species apparently seen were puma, lynx and even leopards, which
the society said had all been found in the UK since 1980.

Devon and ornwall police spokesman, Sergeant Alan Mobbs confirmed that they
had recieived a report of a sighting from Mr. Munslow.

Sgt. Mobbs said: "All calls are logged, any acton we would take would depend
upon circumstances, but i it is in the woods we would not go looking for it.
Historically those that we have followed up and traced have tended to be
domestic animals."
|| Re: Big Cat Sighting in West|Plymouthcrypto|Cmoiser@aol.com|11/12/05 at 09:17:17|plymouthcrypto|xx|0|195.93.21.104|I was extremely concerned when I read this article.

Firstly there was a picture of a black leopard (occupying over a quarter of the front page of the newspaper) and labelled as a puma.

Secondly there was a comment that under British law you are required to report any sightings of big cats to the police. This latter comment is totally untrue. When I telephoned Devon and Cornwall police press office they agreed with me and suggested that Mr. Bamping had said this, as they passed on all reports to him!

Interestingly the paper had also interviewed Alan White from the BBCRG but chose to ignore his comments. (Alan was quoted in the Hearld Express which gave a much more sensible report and didn't alter British law, or the rules of Taxonomy).

I did email the reporter at the WMN and point out the mistakes, but have received no reply. It was the BBCS (Mr. Bamping) who on a previous occasion suggested that wallabies and parakeets required a Dangerous Wild Animals Act licence!

Chris. M. Moiser || Re: Big Cat Sighting in West|Plymouthcrypto|Cmoiser@aol.com|11/12/05 at 09:19:53|plymouthcrypto|xx|0|195.93.21.104|The reporter is Peter Harrison, and he is based at the Exeter office of the Western Morning News. His email address was on the article, so presumably he is inviting comments.

He is pharrison@westernmorningnews.co.uk

Do write and give him your views||