Report from Chris Smith
A "Puma-like" beast is being hunted after the death of a sheep on a hill farm in Aberdeenshire. The sheep had been stripped to the bone in the attack. Only its backbone, some ribs, and the head were left.
The discovery was made yesteday morning by farmer Douglas Davidson when he checked his flock at Sinsharnie Farm, near Huntly. "It was quite horriffic. The fleece had been skinned off in its entirety," said PC Neil Binning, who was called to the scene.
"All that was left was the backbone, which had been skinned along its length, a few ribs which had been skinned, and its head," he added.
Mr. Davidson said it was the third attack on one of his sheep in recent weeks. However, he added: "This is the worst attack yet. Everything was just torn to bits. It has been trailed about a 100-yard area. We have a paw print left and we have collected two faeces from the ground which we will have examined."
Mr Davidson said that, about a month ago, two neighbours had seen a big cat which had run up a tree. "It was bigger than a labrador. I am convinced this is what is killing my lambs."
The attack is similar to he killing of a sheep a few weeks ago on a farm 50 miles away at Mintlaw. There have been a number of reports of a puma-like animal in the Huntly area over the past year. Earlier this month Mr. Bill Cruickshank, a farmer in Mintlaw, claimed a puma or mountain lion killed one of his son's sheep.
A big cat was seen swimming across the River Dee near Banchory, another was seen at King Edward, near Turiff, and a woman from Skene claimed she witnessed a lynx-like animal attacking her domestic cat.
A farmer's union representative, Sheena Hunt, advised farmers to contact the police if they saw anything suspicious. "I would also remind them that if they caught anything in the act of chasing their sheep they have the right to shoot it. But when it is something unknown like this, it would probably be best to let the police know," she added.
Inspector John Sellar, Grampian Police's wildlife liason officer, said: "I do not think we are talking about a native species here. There have been quite a number of sightings of large cats and it would have to be a fairly sizable animal to devour an entire sheep."
16 th December 1994
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