Britain's 'big cat X files' revealed
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Posted 07 March 2010 - 08:25 PM
There have been more than 100 sightings of exotic and unidentified animals in England since 2005, according to a dossier compiled by Natural England. They are the stuff of rural legend – but for decades, alleged sightings of big cats stalking the British countryside have been dismissed as hoax or fantasy.
Yet now the head of a Government agency responsible for investigating such incidents has declared that he believes these mysterious creatures do indeed exist. His comments follow the release of a dossier by Natural England which lists more than 100 sightings of exotic, non-native and unidentified animals in England since 2005.
Of these, 38 were "big cats". In some cases, members of the public claimed to have seen the creature itself; on other occasions, they reported finding farm or wild animals which had been attacked or killed. The documents – Britain's "big cats X Files" – show the extent to which Natural England takes the reports seriously.
The agency has launched several investigations, involving site visits by officials and the drafting in of specialist vets to examine injuries. Big cat sightings have been reported all over England. In some areas they have spawned legends, such as the so-called Beast of Bodmin in the south west.
The investigations have yet to find conclusive proof of the presence of the mysterious creatures but, asked about their existence, Charlie Wilson, who coordinates reports for the Government agency, said: "The evidence is there that there are the odd, escaped, released dumped animals occurring in the wild every now and then.
"We know that. I am quite prepared to believe that. I don't think there are any breeding populations, however. "If they are there, the numbers are so small that any risk of people encountering them is pretty small and any risks they present are somewhere approaching zero."
He added: "All reports are logged in our system. If there is only a sighting, then there is not usually much more than can be done to follow it up. "But we are able to do so if there is something a bit more tangible that we could look at, like the carcases of other animals, or tracks. There are reports that turn out to be plausible."
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