SIGHTINGS of the Beast of Cannock Chase have increased, with residents reporting a series of close encounters with the big cat.
This week a number of startled Chasefolk contacted our offices.
Their encounters with the oversized feline come at a time when big cat experts have warned ‘large exotic cats’ are DEFINITELY out there.
Shocked trainee teacher Matthew Horeton said the beast dashed out in front of him while driving through the Chase near the German War Cemetery.
“I saw something large and black dart out in front of my car about 50 metres in the distance,” Matthew said.
“At first I thought it was a deer, but as I got closer to the place it had disappeared. I saw something moving in the undergrowth.
“It was smaller than a deer, but it had a large black tail and was sort of slinking through the bracken.
“There was no way it was an average cat - it was much too large.”
Another resident contacted us to say he had a similar encounter.
“As I was driving back to the town from Rugeley I definitely saw something moving from the fields into the woods,” the person said.
“I was a fair distance away as I came over the brow of the hill, but this thing was not a deer. It moved in a slow and unhurried way. It was very low to the ground.
“I drive through the Chase regularly and I have never, ever seen anything like that.”
The eye witness accounts come at a time when big cat experts are calling on people to accept the beasts are out there.
Neil Arnold, of Kent Big Cat Research, contacted us after word of the sightings spread.
“It’s time the public, especially sceptics, realised that large exotic cats are nothing unusual in the UK countryside any more - and that the only mystery is that they’ve become a mystery,” he said.
“These animals haven’t recently been released, but a steady influx of animals from private collections and travelling menageries over time has resulted in today’s populations.”
He claims panthers and pumas are the two main animals sighted. “The leopard is a big cat alongside the lion, tiger, jaguar as it can roar.
But the puma, despite reaching over 4ft in length, is not a big cat but the largest of the ‘lesser cats’. It can’t roar, but it does possess an eerie shriek,” he said.
The expert said the animals, though not a threat to humans, ‘must be taken seriously’.
“Lynx and smaller cats inhabit the countryside also, but the main problem is all the while such animals are classed as a myth. It means they are being ignored by authorities and prone to hunters which, in turn, will create very agitated cats.”
He warned: “These cats are not a threat to humans, as there is so much prey out there in the wilds, from rabbits to deer, from birds to livestock, but such animals must be taken seriously.”
Article Link from 31-08-2008