'Big cat' is seen again|Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|05/27/07 at 17:27:22|richard_f|xx|0||'Big cat' is seen again
By David Jackman
THE so-called Beast of Ongar' has been spotted in fields in Abridge since it is believed to have spooked dogs which were being taken for a walk in Toot Hill.

Guardian reader Stephen Monk said he saw a panther-like cat in fields at the bottom of his garden two weeks ago after his dogs were alerted to something at 4am.

Mr Monk, of Middle Boy, Abridge, was asleep on the settee when his dog ran at the French doors having been alerted to something.

He said: "I half thought I wasn't believing what I was seeing. I've heard reports of a cat being about but it wasn't until the report this week (on the front page of the Epping Forest Guardian) - it had to be that.
"It was like a panther - black with a long tail about as big as my (Labrador mongrel) dog but not as fat.

"It would have been three-and-a-half to 4ft long and had a very long tail. At 4am the morning it was like broad daylight.

"I didn't give it a thought (that it was a big cat'). It didn't come into my head until a read the article. Had I been a bit quicker I could have grabbed my mobile phone and taken a picture of it. It ran right across the field about 60 ft away from me.

"It's definitely not a little tabby cat."

This week the Guardian reported repeated sightings of a big cat have been made in and around Toot Hill, with a stripped deer carcass believed to have been the work of a big cat. Donna Roots said her dogs were spooked by something. They then came across the complete pelt some 100 yards away.

She is aware of about half-a-dozen sightings in the area in eight months. They follow numerous others reported by the Guardian dating back several years, including sightings, or suspected big cat' related attacks on animals - and in one case a car - in Norton Heath, Matching, Roydon, Stanford Rivers, and North Weald where four geese were killed by an animal later confirmed by a big cat expert to have been a lynx.

Have you seen the big cat in the Ongar area? Let us know. Email djackman@london.newsquest.co.uk or text brief details to 07710 447868.

4:34pm Friday 25th May 2007

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