Big cat sightings in mid Wales have been claimed for many years
An expert has been called in to investigate a suspected "big cat"
attack on a Welsh lamb in mid Wales.
Diane Marshall, who runs a 10-acre farm with 38 sheep at Talsarn, near Lampeter, found one of her lambs dead with its legs and shoulder bitten off.
The following night she said she came within yards of the beast which she said was much bigger than a fox or sheep.
The animal, which was bigger than a sheep, then fled into the night. It was a very frightening experience
Mrs Marshall called the police, who in turn called in Welsh assembly officers to analyse the carcass, which was taken away for post-mortem examination.
That investigation proved inconclusive and the body has now been passed to an expert.
Fears of wild big cats such as pumas and panthers roaming mid Wales have circulated since the 1970s with sightings of the so-called 'Beast of Bont' in north Ceredigion.
"I was checking my sheep on Monday night when I heard loud snoring noises coming from a field near my house," said Mrs Marshall.
"I shone a torch on the animal to see two glaring yellow eyes looking at me.
"The animal, which was bigger than a sheep, then fled into the night. It was a very frightening experience."
The lamb had its leg and shoulder bitten off
Mrs Marshall is convinced a big cat was to blame.
"It was a classic big cat killing because the shoulder and leg were bitten off and a dog would have attacked the other 15 sheep in the group," she said.
"I am now arming myself with a big stick and a professional shooter is going to look for the animal and its tracks on Thursday night."
An assembly spokesman said: "The post-mortem examination revealed that the lamb had been killed by a predator but was unable to identify the species."
He said the results had now been sent to an expert in predation (the preying on one animal by others) by wild mammals for his opinion.
But Liz Hamer, west Wales representative of the British Big Cat Society said it was doubtful that the lamb had been attacked by a large cat-like animal.
"It sounds to me like the lamb was attacked by a dog rather than a big cat," she said.
"A dog will rag a lamb by tearing off its legs but a big cat does not kill for the sake of it.
"A whole lamb is a big meal for a cat like a puma which is more likely to eat something the size of a rabbit.
"Nevertheless it is still important for farmers to report incidents like this because I am convinced that there are big cats in mid Wales."
© BBC News, December 2003
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