Big cats

BBC News: Print ‘proof’ of big cat presence.

Police believe they have the first conclusive proof a big cat, dubbed the "Beast of Balbirnie", could be on the loose in Fife. There have been numerous reports of big cats in the Kingdom in recent years. Now officers have had a plaster cast of a paw print verified by experts who believe it is of an 18-month-old exotic large cat.

Fife Police’s wildlife crime officer, Mark Maylin, said it was most likely to be a print of a black leopard. Mr Maylin said: "There had been several sightings at one time on the Balbirnie Estate near Glenrothes of a big cat so we went down and discovered this print. At the time there was a local man who said he had been walking his St Bernard dog in the area but I was convinced it had come from a big cat so I took a plaster cast of it to two experts who said immediately it was from an exotic cat. They couldn’t be species-specific because there wasn’t specific clarity in the heel pad but said judging by the size the animal was 18 months old and was the offspring of an animal released illegally in the 90s."

I love stories about big cats living wild in the UK. Several children’s books I read had this as a theme (including the last book of the Animals of Farthing Wood series), and I remember hearing about the Beast of Bodmin Moor.