Big cat spotted was probably a lynx, experts claim|selkie||02/09/08 at 20:57:41|selkie|xx|0||A BIG cat spotted by a family as they drove home through Radnorshire was probably a lynx, according to an expert.
The beast was spotted near Felindre by Anne Owen, of Newtown, who was travelling home with her family after an evening in Knighton.

She has described the cat as being the same size as a big dog, but with cat-like ears and a flecked white coat.

Anne said: "It happened near Felindre at 10.45pm last Saturday. My husband was driving and got a better view of it as I had just turned around to talk to our son, but we saw a very unusual creature.

"It was the size of a large dog, long and thin, with mainly a dull white coat, but with large, long grey and black flecked markings, with cat like ears.

"I thought it had a long curled tail and it certainly didn't seem bothered about the car. It just looked at us and sauntered on past. I don't think I would like to have met it on foot."

The sighting the latest in a long list in Mid Wales has excited big cat expert, Danny Bamping, who suspects the animal Anne saw was a lynx, one of the most feared big cats, with a history of attacks on humans.

He said: "It sounds very much like a lynx with the exception of the mention of the long tail, as they have only very small ones, but this is a good sighting by all accounts."

Danny added that Mid Wales has been host to a number of big cat sightings over the past 10 years, with the rurality of the area providing perfect living conditions.

"Mid Wales has been a 'hot-spot' for years with big cat sightings. There is a lot of cover, food and it's the perfect habitat for them to live in," he said.

"It's hard to tell for sure which species has been spotted on this occasion - but 70 per cent of big cat sightings are of black ones."

The lynx generally travels alone, feeding on deer, birds, small mammals and sheep and behavioural traits resemble that of a leopard.

Experts say that spotting a lynx is a very rare event, due to the extremely shy and solitary nature of the animal. A number of attacks on humans have been recorded worldwide, but these are usually in self-defense.

Big cats were used in Britain as exotic pets in the early 1900's, but when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced in 1976, owners had to buy local authority licenses
and expensive cages - or face having their animals put down.

Many couldn't afford to comply with the new rules, so instead of having to deal with the pain of seeing a pet put down, released them in the wild in Wales and Scotland.

Sightings of big cats in Mid Wales are reportedly on the rise, with a 2006 study, backed by the British Big Cat Society, saying there had been over 100 reported sightings in North and Mid Wales in a 12 month period.

In the study, expert Marcus Matthews said he expected there were 50 big cats in Wales, 'from black leopards to lynxes and smaller jungle and leopard cats'.

Other sightings in Mid Wales include an incident in December 1994, when a man reported seeing a panther near Builth Wells.||