North Wales|shearluck||07/11/08 at 17:15:21|shearluck|xx|0||[quote]by Kelly Fenna

DOZENS of big cats have been spotted prowling around North Wales, the
Daily Post can reveal.

In the last seven years, people have reported panther-like creatures
on the loose across the region.

North Wales Police have logged incidents where it was claimed the
predators were seen killing other animals.

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that 45 big
cat sightings have been recorded across North Wales.

Seven separate incidents were logged from people claiming to have seen
a panther.

The "hotspot" areas where residents belive they have seen large wild
cats the most are in Dolgellau and Llangefni.

Founding member of the British Big Cats Society, Danny Bamping said he
is convinced there is plenty of evidence of them roaming the Welsh

The last reported sightings were in January this year in Beaumaris and

In 2007, one incident was logged in Rhyl and in 2006 eight people
contacted police one caller claimed that a big cat was seen with a
cat in its mouth in Llandudno.

Mr Bamping said: "North Wales is certainly a hotspot for sightings of
big cats so these relatively high figures do not surprise me. It is
interesting the number that are black cats as well.

"Rural North Wales is an area a big cat can live, can survive and can
thrive. There are areas they can live where the chances of being seen
are minimal."

The BCS studies evidence and estimate just under a third of reported
sightings are not really big cats.

Mr Bamping said: "Our theory on other cases dates back to the 1976
Dangerous Animals Act, which placed strict restrictions on the
ownership of non-indigenous species. It is believed that these new
laws saw owners release their pets into the wild.

"The sightings we get now are probably second and third generation big
cats. "

In 2004, police marksmen scoured the Llandonna area on Anglesey using
the force helicopter after reports that a "panther-like" creature had
been seen and officers searched for two hours.

Investigators said paw prints were found but a specialist wildlife
officer concluded they were more likely to be from a dog.

And in the same year, Welsh Assembly officials seized footage from
holidaymakers in Powys but later ruled the video showed a domestic cat.

Over the years the BCS has uncovered several hoaxes in its search for
genuine evidence, including a photograph printed by tabloids that
turned out to be a cuddly toy.

Daily Post 26/6/08