Thursday, 28 January 2010

Do Giant Footprints Prove Big Cat Theory?

A set of massive paw prints could finally be proof of the existence of a 'big cat' residents believe has stalked their village for 30 years.
The chilling 9cm (3.5inch) imprints of a large feline's foot were discovered in several inches of snow by teaching assistant Coryn Memory, 43.
She took photos of the prints after her neighbour Jane Spicer, 53, saw a large cat 'the size of a Labrador' dog run past her on a country lane in Thrupp near Stroud, Gloucestershire.


Proof: The 3.5 inch paw print was photographed by Coryn Memory on the Dallaway Estate in Stroud. Residents say it's evidence of a big cat living in the village
Villagers have been reporting elusive beasts in the area - sometimes rummaging through bins - for the last three decades.
The creature has been spotted more than 15 times this month alone and experts believe it may have been forced into the open by the bad weather.
Ms Memory said: 'Jane and I went out immediately and followed where it had been and took photos of the prints. It's about nine centimetres from its front toe to its back pad.
'You can see its toes and it looks like someone's just dropped a dart at the end of each toe where it's claw has made an indentation in the snow.
'The stride between the prints was about 120cm and there were tail marks in the snow as well.'
She added: 'I've seen it loads of times across the valley. One of the neighbours has been here since she was a child and she said she's been seeing it for 30 years.'

Elusive: Big cat expert Frank Tunbridge said the paw prints suggested that the feline had been forced into the open by bad weather
Ms Spicer, a caretaker, said: 'The animal was long in body and about the size of a collie. The tail was round thick and black, and it had a small catlike head.
'I've always been quite sceptical about whether to believe it or not, but I know what I saw.'
Big cat investigator Frank Tunbridge said more sightings are likely in the adverse weather as the cat comes out of the woodland to look for prey, such as voles, field mice and deer.
He said: 'The tracks are clawed, which make them different from a domestic cat.
'The pads are slightly rounder than a dog's and the claw marks are like points of a dart, as opposed to a dog's which are blunt.
'This animal is a mysterious beast. It has a few characteristics of a big cat and others which are dog-like.
'This time of year is also their mating season so they come out of familiar surroundings to look for a mate. I think the sightings are all probably the same one or two cats, as most are very territorial.'
Experts believe big cats are the descendants of animals like pumas or panthers released into the wild by owners after the Dangerous Animals Act 1976 tightened up regulations over keeping them as pets.