Report from Reuel Chisholm
A total of 16 wild cats have been recovered by animal welfare authorities in
Northern Ireland, it was disclosed today.
As a major search for two big cats roaming Ulster`s north coast was scaled down, the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said it was currently caring for 16 wild cats.
The charity said a black panther continued to prowl an area close to the village of Ballybogey, outside Portrush, and a brown puma was still roaming hills near Ballycastle, both in Co Antrim, despite a major search operation.
It is understood both animals were released near Bushmills in July.
It was originally believed only one wild cat was on the loose, but USPCA chief executive Stephen Philpott said his organisation had played down the differing reports of the appearance of the cat after adverse media attention.
'We watched the nonsense that was being printed when it was thought there was one wild cat on the loose,' he said.
'Can anyone imagine what the stories would have been like if it was known there were two, it would have been like a scene from the film Out of Africa.'
Up to five other wild cats are believed to be on the loose across Northern Ireland.
Mr Philpott said the current chaos was due to a lack of legislation governing the keeping of wild animals in Northern Ireland.
He said among the animals his organisation was currently caring for were six tigers, a lion and a leopard which were recovered from a shed at a private bungalow in Omagh in 1997.
'The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 was never extended to Northern Ireland,' he said.
A helicopter and police air support unit had been involved in the latest operation to try to catch or kill one of the animals near the village of Ballybogey yesterday.
The cat was linked to the death of six sheep in that area.
The search followed more than 20 sightings of a wild animal in the north coast in the last two months.
U TV, 25 th September 2003
|Return to index||Return to Scottish Big Cats||Return to Escapes & Captures|