I want a few opinions on the attached pictures.
These are of my Texel Ram, taken in August this year. The claw/teeth marks are quite far apart 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches. The ram was attacked from the front.
A hole, the thickness of a pencil (tooth?), can be seen on his lower right jaw. This hole did prompt us to think he had been shot, but further examination ruled that out.
The ram died a week later, no further examination was carried out, except to see if his jaw was broken - it wasn't. Around the time of the attack (mid-august) a 'Black Panther' was sighted (2-3 times) 3/4 of a mile away. This animal appears to be a regular visitor in the summer months. I have not seen it myself. (I have seen 2 Big Black Cats several years ago, but that's another story)
I have sent these pictures to a Big Cat expert who seems to be reasonably convinced it maybe a Big Cat who is responsible, however I am always interested in other peoples opinions. It may just be a dog attack, anyhow see what you think and let me know.
Unfortunately I cannot make out the wounds very well on the pics, seeing the actual pics, or close-ups would be nice. But then again I am no expert. There has been quite a lot of attacks on sheep recently by dogs, eight sheep in one night in Wales had their faces ripped off, and the poor animals still lived. More down in Devon, the culprit turned out to be a dog left over after the hunt. Apparently, according to Nigel Brielry, some of these dogs are trained to attack sheep by the head and neck.
Mark Fraser, Ayrshire Big Cats
Thanks for the reply.
The pictures were taken on a digital camera so I am afraid that's as good as they get. I would not be suprised if it was a dog attack, but its still a bit odd. I sent an e-mail to an expert and enclose some answers I gave to his questions. Be brutaly honest, if you think it may be a dog (or Badger as our vet said!) let me know.
I've filled in what I can. The information is as accurate as I can remeber. I must say I am not totally convinced this is anything to do with a Big Cat, although I know they exist, but it is interesting to see what other people think.
> 1) Where exactly are you in Devon? (This allows me to plot the potential attack)
I would rather not say at the moment. No offence. However we are basically right in the middle.
> 2) In what sort of habitat did the potential attack take place? (Moorland, wooded valley, open grassland Etc)
Wooded/grassland valley. 4 acre, north facing, sloping field bordering wooded quarry (that, as a matter of interest, has a breeding pair of Peregrines)
> 3) What is the estimated time of the attack?
Unsure. The ram had been checked in the morning, but the wounds may have been missed. I spotted the wounds about early evening. The thing that does puzzle me is that the ram was very healthy (not to be messed with!) In the field with him was another ram (the Suffolk in the picture) and (and this is what I find odd) a 5 month old lamb that (due to a cyst) was unable to use its back legs - why was he left untouched??? He could run, but I would of thought he would have been an easy target.
> 4) Where there any other injuries to the Ram? (Scratches, cuts, > puncture wounds, bruising, limping Etc)
Apart from what you can see on the pictures there was a cut under the chin, running from one side to the other. The large injury to the side of the face was originally two slashes about 1 1/4 - 1 1/2 inches apart. The skin between the cuts fell of a day or so later. The other thing I noticed was the lack of blood - none on the wool or any on the ground.
> 5) Have you ever seen Deer local to the attack?
Not many, Mainly Roe in the summer and the odd Red.
> 6) Have you a healthy Rabbit population local to the attack?
NO! I fly hawks and it's very difficult to find rabbits. However I believe this may be down to RVHD. (Rabbit Viral Haemorrhagic Disease). There has been a lot of it about, along with Myxomatosis. We also have a lot of very fat Foxes and Badgers.
> 7) Where exactly was the 'Black Panther' seen prior to the attack (you mentioned 3/4 miles away, do you know who saw it and when)?
I know of four people who have claimed to have seen it over the past 3 years. Two of which I would consider to be reliable. These are mainly daytime sightings whilst dog walking etc. The last time it was spotted was within a week or two of the Ram being attacked. The cat appears in the wooded valley every summer for the past three. It is a quite undisturbed valley with a stream.
> 8) You mentioned a cat is seen regularly in the Summer months, could you put me in touch with other land owners who have experienced the cat (either seen, or suffered livestock damage)?
Might be difficult. Unfortunately when the rumours got about the local gun toting idiots appeared on the seen (shame they weren't eaten!). Things have been quite since. One lady who saw the 'Cat' regularly did not appear to feel threatnd by it even though it was the size of her Black Labrador. It would just lay in the sun in the field.
> 9) Did you report the potential attack? (MAFF/FRCA/DETR/police Etc)
I work for an agency that has done work on the Big Cat question in the past. Least said about that the better (any jobs going in the wildlife consultant area?). Our vet did do a limited check on the ram and blamed the attack on a Badger. I somehow don't think so. We do have a lot of Brocks but I think she had been on the Horse tranquillisers!
> 10) Would you please contact me if you see(or if you hear of) a Big cat/suffer more livestock damage in your local area?
Yes. No problem. Oh and the weather was sunny - surprising for Devon !
Hope this has been usefull. I will let you know if anything else happens, but it tends to be quite this time of year. I have seen a couple of 'big' cats, one I am sure was a panther. For a while it was rumoured there was a Lynx in the local quarry, but like most of thie stuff you can never be sure unless you see it yourself. Might see you when you visit in May.
Thanks for the reply, as I said I am no expert on these matters, and I would have to see close ups. But I would have thought that a big cat attack would leave some kind of scratches. A colleague in Leicstershire mentions that the ram would charge to protect any ewes being attacked, but also as he rightly says, sheep are not attacked that often, never mins a heavy Texel ram. But after saying that we have several cases here in Scotland of horse being attacked by big cats.
Yes, put the pics in the mail bag section. Be it a dog or badger or cat I'm interested in what people have to say.
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but in the field with the Texel was a Suffolk Ram and a sick lamb with a cyst on its spine. What I find odd is why did the attacker have a go at a healthy Ram and not a 5 month old lamb with little use of its back legs? I was also supprised the Texel Ram died one week later.
Feeling a little artistic I have enclosed a drawing of the Texel Ram. This, hopefully, shows you what the ram looked like on the day of the attack and the long, but not deep, scratch he had under his chin.
Let me know what happens.
I've seen the web-site - wow! Also it was an interesting point made by the guy below - John Murray. We had the glory guns here and that is why I don't say exactly were it all happened.
The last thing we heard from our vet was the ram died of shock after being attacked by a Badger !
|Return to index||Return to Scottish Big Cats||Return to Photo Album|