Big cats

M

malcolm

Guest
#1
Looking through the forum this evening I noticed someone mentioned big cats being on your FA cert along with Boar, etc.

Has anyone out there had any sightings or dealings with the Big Black Cat problem?

I was extreamly scepticle about the whole affair until about 3 years ago whilst out stalking for Fallow in the late winter. I didnt see one but I had a very unreal experiance, which I am convinced was a Cat kill on domestic stock.

Anyone got any views?
 

bobt

Well-Known Member
#2
I have personally seen 2, at fairly close range 100yds and 20 yds.

friends locally have also seen them, one 10 feet away, when his lab stood behind him.
 

stag1933

Well-Known Member
#3
There was one seen here in the Lake District a few months ago by a sensible sheep farmer.
He said it had its paws on a low place on a wall and was looking over.
I asked him if it was rug size and he said it was.
No recent reports have been recorded so it may have moved on.
We have enough problems here at lambing time without big cats adding to them.
I have shot 86 Carrion Crows so far this season !
 

monynut

Well-Known Member
#4
On the subject of big cats l have had 2 personal experiences with them both on the same estate, but it actually started a few months before when l was accompanying the keeper and he was saying to me that he was feeding the pheasants one morning when he witnessed a large black cat jump down from a tree,l took over from the keeper a while later and during the following winter l was doing the pheasant feed and driving down beside one of the woods when a large black cat got up and ran through the wood this l observed for a good few seconds before it disappeared.
The second time we was lamping and we saw a large black cat stalking down the side of another wood before disappearing into the wood, also during my time as the keeper on that estate the gardeners found large paw prints in the extensive gardens of the house and while talking to the lamping guy of the neighbouring estate he had watched one on the bank of the river that runs through the two estates.
But all that aside can these beasts be classed as vermin if so why after all these years of speculation,sightings and close encounters has no hard evidence come forward in the form of a dead animal as a result of an RTA or one being shot because if they can be classed as vermin is not there many section 1 holders who can legitimately take out these animals who have the condition to shoot vermin in connection with the management of any estate or other wildlife with a larger calibre firearm
 

JAYB

Administrator
Site Staff
#5
I have always had a sneaking suspicion that there have been instances of them being shot and then buried, or whatever. The grey area of he legality of shooting one of these things being he incentive to dispose of the evidence. Just my two penneth.

John
 

Thar

Well-Known Member
#6
I got to within 20yrds of one about 10 years ago in the midlands, :eek: the animal was seen by a woman walking her dog a day later. This was reported in the local paper.

I also know of 4 other people who claim to have seen big cats, two of them were together when they saw the particular cat in question.

Thar
 
M

malcolm

Guest
#7
Well guys I will tell you of my experiance.

I was managing Fallow on a small estate west of Canterbury in Kent for about 4 years. On the morning of the incident, it was cold, frosty, foggy and still. The breeze blowing that morning meant I had to walk right round the edage of the 300 acres to get tp a point where I could stalk the property. Through out this time I heard nothing, saw nothing. Although there where a great many sheep on the estate, I also saw none, and heard none.

The west edge of the ground enters onto a large FC block of about 2000 acres, and is where one usually clocked a few deer, I saw and heard nothing. Between this area and the next is an open area that has a few very large Horse Chestnut trees. By this time the sun had just risen, and I looked over to see a sheep laying on its own under a tree. On further investigation I discovered it had just been killed that minute. It was still very warm, even the nose was warm. The neck had been eaten completely out and the blood laying in the divuts of the spinal column was also warm. The lower jaw had been bitten across with large canine marks evident through the lower jaw. Whatever had killed the sheep had stalked it from behind as it was laying down, and the animal had jumped on it from behind as the force of the impact had slewn the sheep to one side and disturbed the frost around the area where the sheep has been laying.

After surveying the whole scene, I phoned my two friends on the opposite ground and later we took photos and informed the shepherd. Throughout the whole morning I never saw anyhting or heard anything. Some one told me that it was a dog kill, which I cannot believe. I heard no barking, there was no evidence of the sheep being chased, and it had not been bitten around the back legs, rump etc.

Big Cats have been reported in the area, but like many they are always black, which I find rather odd. Melanistic Leopards are very rare, and in africa they are found occasionally in Ethiopia. Jauguars also produce a melanistic form called a Panther, but these are not the kind of animals that one would expect to find running around the UK.

Just to finish, I do know of several other areas in the UK where Cats are seen regularly, although they are always fleeting glimpses. I would not be at all suprised if some have been shot and buried, but it would be nice to get a sample off one of these animals, as I have the right contacts to run a DNA test.
 

Thar

Well-Known Member
#8
The cat I saw was light brown (lion colour) it was the size of a large Labrador, it appeared to me to be what the Americans call a “Mountain Lion”.

The one my friends said they saw was black, but they saw there’s down in Devon.

Thar.
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
#9
This is a huge subject and is discussed on many specialist forums. If you try and ignore the obvious rubbish the general concensus is that there were a number of cats released, many in 1976 in response to the Dangerous Wild Animals Act. This placed huge restrictions on the keeping of dangerous animals, including cats, in captivity. If you believe the stories many owners took their cats out and released them in various places in the UK countryside.

One interesting theme is that so many of the cats reported are black. Some are described as black pumas (or cougars - the same thing) but in nature black pumas are almost unknown whereas black leopards (black panthers) are not uncommon in SE Asia (but are very uncommon in Africa). It is logical to think that black panthers might have been a more popular pet than normally coloured leopards.

Jaguars also have a melanistic form but this is far more uncommon and they were never popular as pets.

The original cats released must have largely died out by now so you have to wonder where the current cats come from and the obvious answer is that the original cats bred. Big cats often have huge territories in the wild and travel long distances in search of a mate but given the very small numbers of cats on the loose the chances of a male and female of the same species meeting up are quite small.

Where do the "black pumas" come from? Well, given that they are probably not black pumas, a possibility is that a black leopard has hybridised with a puma but we don't know if such a cross is going to be fertile.

Even if you discount a fair number of the sightings there enough left made by normal, sensible and knowledgable people to suggest that there are a few big cats loose in various places in the UK. Given the huge deer population combined with domestic stock a cat is going to find it very easy to survive in the UK.

The majority of sightings seem to relate to cougars (also called puma, mountain lion, and catamount) whether normal coloured or black. These live in similar climates to ours in the New World and so would easily adapt.

Other sightings are of leopards, lynx and various other smaller cats. As far as I know no-one has reported a jaguar, ocelot or cheetah.

My own contribution is that whilst we were stalking red stags on the edge of Exmoor a friend of mine was in a high seat and saw an animal walking through bracken. It was fawn coloured and its head was carried lower than its shoulders. He could see its shoulder blades working as it walked which is a very typical cat movement. It was about labrador sized and he had no doubt that he had just seen a cougar. We mentioned it to the farmer who showed no surprise and said that they saw it a couple of times each year.

Many wonder why such a big animal is not seen more often but even in places in the world where these animals are fairly common you can spend weeks without seeing one.

My own view is that there are (or most likely "were") a least one or two cougars, leopards and lynx loose in the UK countryside and that they may have bred and possibly hybridised.

There was a recent article in the Shooting Times (29th March) with a photo of a pug mark found recently in Cumbria, there was a scale against the pug mark which made the print roughly 4" x 4".

I have been told that the only legal way to shoot one is "in self defence" and that some have been shot and disposed of rather than answer difficult questions.
 

morena

Well-Known Member
#10
One of my staff had quite an amazing confrontation with a European Lynx.As follows: her cat came flying through the cat flap tail bushed, the labrador went to the door with hackles raised.She opened the door to be confronted by large pussy with tufts on his ears brownish with spots on his coat. Size slightly smaller than her lab,thick shortish tail,slightly ungainly gait as he moved off.Unfortunately pebbles and grass so unable to take impressions of pug marks(spoor).Not reported to press as didn't want the curious tramping all over their property.
Morena
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
#11
morena said:
One of my staff had quite an amazing confrontation with a European Lynx.As follows: her cat came flying through the cat flap tail bushed, the labrador went to the door with hackles raised.She opened the door to be confronted by large pussy with tufts on his ears brownish with spots on his coat. Size slightly smaller than her lab,thick shortish tail,slightly ungainly gait as he moved off.Unfortunately pebbles and grass so unable to take impressions of pug marks(spoor).Not reported to press as didn't want the curious tramping all over their property.
Morena
Without giving too much away - in roughly what part of the country was this?
 
S

swampy

Guest
#13
my fire arms certificate says "the 243 rifle.... and .30-06 rifle shall be used for the shooting of deer and fox and for zeroing."

So if i nailed a cat i would be in breach of the conditions. But with my experience and knowledge i would shoot it and then i would report it to the police straight away.

I wouldn't do it with my .243 becuase i think they take some killing.


I suspect you guys will give me a right fragging for this opinion!

swampy
 
M

malcolm

Guest
#14
Although Lions have been crossed with Tigers in captivity, there is no possible chance that the big cats we are seeing are hybrids between Leopards, Pumas and Lynx.

Some months after my incident, one of my friends had a relation over from USA who worked for the Wildlife service, his job is to trap and radio collar Puma (mountain lion). He looked at the photographs I took, and said it was a dog kill, which I strongly disagreed with. His theory was that all cats start at the stomach end where the carcass is easy to break into. He also added that he was not aware of any cat that started at the throat.

True, most cats start at the stomach end, except one that regularly starts at the throat, the Leopard. On his return to the States he investigated this further and then ranh my friendd to confirm that I was correct, and that his conclusion had changed, and that it was a cat kill.

Anyone found any carcasses in a tree?
 

paul k

Well-Known Member
#16
malcolm said:
Although Lions have been crossed with Tigers in captivity, there is no possible chance that the big cats we are seeing are hybrids between Leopards, Pumas and Lynx.

Some months after my incident, one of my friends had a relation over from USA who worked for the Wildlife service, his job is to trap and radio collar Puma (mountain lion). He looked at the photographs I took, and said it was a dog kill, which I strongly disagreed with. His theory was that all cats start at the stomach end where the carcass is easy to break into. He also added that he was not aware of any cat that started at the throat.

True, most cats start at the stomach end, except one that regularly starts at the throat, the Leopard. On his return to the States he investigated this further and then ranh my friendd to confirm that I was correct, and that his conclusion had changed, and that it was a cat kill.

Anyone found any carcasses in a tree?
I had not meant to imply that a lynx was involved with any possible hybridisation, the comment involved only leopard and pumas.

The general expert opinion is that there is no physical reason why a puma should not mate with a leopard, the main doubt is over whether any progeny would be sterile or not. I'm pretty sure that I have read about a successful puma x leopard in the States but I'll check it out.

What is very unlikely is that any of these animals are actually black pumas as there is no definite record of a melanistic puma anywhere in its natural range. They might be pure black panthers (leopards) misidentified as pumas and some reported cats are definately normal coloured pumas, however I am pretty sure that not many, if any, normal coloured leopards have been reported which is interesting.

Whilst most cats do indeed start to eat in the belly area, quite a number kill by means of either an asphixiating grip on the throat or a neck grip to break the neck. Either way there would be damage to the neck on many cat kills. I'm not altogether sure that dogs would start eating in the neck region either as they kill by worrying the rear end of the prey and also grab at the throat but not in the "clean" way that a cat does.
 

Jason

Well-Known Member
#17
In Hertfordshire last week we had some armed police with rifles and shotguns out looking for what they though was a plack panther for 3 hours along with a ranger from one of the a big cat resevers.

It Made the local papers over the weekend, the police even posted a what to do if you encouter it article in the local rag. I've spoken to a couple of people who have seen them around the area.
 

john.d.m

Well-Known Member
#18
They are about.
What I seen (2X) was a European Lynx, short tail, tips on ears and not black, but a mottled dark colour.
They matched theSiberian Lynx skin I got @ home except for the colour,Siberians are lighter.
The first time it came out in the road infront of me,turned and disappeared back into the field.
The 2nd time, it crossed the road infront of me, and was just walking,took a few seconds to cross and I was no more than 20yds away,just getting light.
It was within 1/2 a mile where Deer-fox saw his.
As for pug marks, people look for claw prints, but cats have claws retracted when walking,unless they become agitated or are climbing.
As for shooting them, from my experience with Leopard, they are soft skinned, but the heartand lung area is very low, and further back than you think as they have a small stomach area so the vitals lay back more and not behind the sholuder.
When we skinned the Leopard I shot, it was very interesting to look at the "layout" of the internals.
A few yrs ago one of the "big cat societies"or whatever they call themselves brought a Professional over from Zimbabwe,he`s friend of mine and we talked about it alot, and he reckons that they could be baited if you had a few sightings in a specific area.But when he suggested it to the big cat society, they weren`t impressed :lol:
A rough guide for judging size,if I remember correctly is,if you can put a king size fag packet in the pug mark,its roughly a 7ft cat,if you can move the fag packet back and forth,make sure you shoot straight and got enough gun.
Mine was 170lbs and 7ft10 long.
 

Top