The Chequers Cheetah|Swan|Cygnus_rex@hotmail.com|01/27/06 at 09:52:36|Swan|xx|0|192.65.17.24|[Quote][b]Beast of Bucks prowls Chequers[/b]
[i]By Clara Story[/i]

Many zoologists are convinced Britain has a large wild population of big cats, which grew in the late 1970s when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act forced owners to get rid of exotic pets.

Many zoologists are convinced Britain has a large wild population of big cats, which grew in the late 1970s when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act forced owners to get rid of exotic pets.

THE Beast of Bucks has been spotted on the prowl again by a cafe owner walking through the Chequers estate.

Heather Brown, who lives in Terrick, south of Aylesbury, was trying out a hiking route in the grounds of the Prime Minister's retreat to plan an outing for the Risborough Area Business Group.

She was walking near the ridgeway at 3pm when she saw a three-foot high cat padding around 150 yards away.

Mrs Brown said: "It was the colour of a fox, a brownish sort of colour.

"As it ran away, it was loping across the field. Foxes and deer trot, this was moving like a cheetah. It was a cat of some kind, and had a long thinnish tail."

After the giant feline had run off, she saw some patrolling police officers and asked them if they had seen the animal.

She said: "They said they hadn't, but told me you're not the only person to have seen it'."

Sightings of the "Beast of Bucks" have been circulating since 2001, when experts confirmed prints found on Wycombe Heights golf course, in Loudwater, were those of a puma.

In 2003, several employees of Ercol, in Princes Risborough, saw a large black cat prowling a nearby field and a farmer in Saunderton said a brown lynx-like creature had killed 40 of his chickens.

The last sighting reported by the Bucks Free Press was in September 2004, when a driver saw an animal in a hedgerow near Beaconsfield.

Many zoologists are convinced Britain has a large wild population of big cats, which grew in the late 1970s when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act forced owners to get rid of exotic pets.

Bob Engledow, who used to run national group Operation Big Cat, said Mrs Brown's sighting was likely to have been a puma for its size and colour.

He said: "These big cats sometimes have a 400 mile territory, and could only come into an area once or twice a year and they normally hunt at night. They are usually seen in the morning, or in the afternoon when the light is going which fits with this lady's sighting."

Les Stocker, from St Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital in Haddenham, said: "We haven't heard anything about it. I'm a bit sceptical. I'm not convinced there's anything up there."

Thames Valley Police told The Star they hadn't received any reports of a big cat in the area.

9:32am Thursday 26th January 2006[/quote]

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