'Panther' a feral pest |Richard_F|richard@cfz.org.uk|03/13/08 at 15:50:44|richard_f|xx|0||'Panther' a feral pest
Rebecca Lang

RLPB Kenthurst director Ian McDougall points to where a large black cat was sighted on his own property several years ago. "I believe in due course these animals are going to take a child."

SIGHTINGS of a large black cat in the Hawkesbury and surrounding areas should be taken more seriously, and the animal declared a pest by the State Government, according to retired magistrate and Moss Vale Rural Lands Protection Board director Ian McDougall.
Mr McDougall, a Board director for Kenthurst, said the continuing presence of a large black cat-like animal should be of great concern to the Minister for Primary Industries, Ian MacDonald.

"I want him to declare the animal as a pest so we could then have mandatory reporting," he said. "Then people wouldn't feel they were nutters if they reported their sighting.

"It's important to me. I believe in due course these animals are going to take a child."

His comments come on the back of several fresh sightings in the Kenthurst area.

Mr McDougall said the large volume of sightings collected by Grose Vale resident Chris Coffey and local big cat researchers could not be ignored.

"What these people are seeing and describing to me is all the same thing - a large black animal, feline in shape, and its got powerful limbs and what most of them describe as jet black fur and a tail that's about 1m long and 2-3 inches thick with a boomerang curve at the end of it," he told The Gazette this week.

"The interesting thing about this group, the people I've spoken to, is they're from all walks of life, they're not delusional.

"It's obvious there's more than one of these creatures and they seem to be tracking along the creeks.

"If it's not a panther it's something that looks like a panther."

The Board recently wrote to the Minister about the big cat issue, but stopped short of demanding that it be declared a pest species.

Mr McDougall - who made it clear he was speaking independently of the Board, not for it - said he favoured a more direct approach.

"I don't want it shot," he said. "If one of them can be trapped so we can find out what it is, that'd be great.

"But until someone drags a carcass and dumps it on the doorstep of the DPI, nothing much is going to happen.

"It's already scratched a young kid in Kenthurst. Somebody has to do something.

"That's my responsibility to the people who elected me."

||03/13/08 at 15:52:44|richard_f