ANTRIM: Big Cat on Prowl|jon_downes||03/04/06 at 18:27:00|jon_downes|xx|0||

Big cat back on prowl?
NORTH Antrim's famous 'big cat' is alive and well, the Times can reveal.
The news was disclosed by USPCA boss Stephen Philpott after the puma was spotted last month.
According to the chief executive it is believed the animal is living in woods near Ballymoney.
Despite air searches by the RAF spotter planes and police marksmen attempting to track the beast through forests in rural north Antrim, the wild cat has so far evaded capture over the past three years.
Although this is the first sighting of the 'big cat' in months, officials are warning people to be vigilant but not to panic.
Although there have been no recent reports of any animals being attacked, farmers are also being urged to keep an eye on their stock for signs of worrying.
In 2003, the 'big cat' was blamed for the slaying of at least five sheep and farmers are being told to look for the trademark facial bites of the 'big cat'.
The USPCA is certain that a puma and a panther were both released into the wild in July 2002, having been kept in private collection.
Addressing the sighting, USPCA chief executive said: "The panther hasn't been seen for months but the puma was spotted within the last five weeks.
"It's living in a wood not far from Ballymoney."

02 March 2006