Report from Leo Martin
Two hillwalkers sparked an intriqing mystery yesterday after they claimed to have sighted a black, five-foot puma or panther on Ben Venue, near Aberfoyle.
Mr. George McCann and his wife Mary, both 69, who have a timeshare aartment at Kinlochard, were on their way down 2,386ft Ben Venue when they spotted the big cat just above the tree line.
Mr. McCann of Castle Douglas said: "It was just about 10.30am when we were startled by the movement of what was either a black panther or puma. It was five foot long with a tail to match. There was no possibility that it was a stray black retriever."
Mr. McCann said the mysterioius animal had been no more than seventy yards away when it disappeared, "with one 10 or 12ft bound." Mr. McCann reported the sighting to the local police. Constable Duncan Brown, of Aberfoyle, said it was the first such incident in his area for 15 years. "We are logging the incident and keeping an open mind. Mr. McCann is genuine, and I can't argue with him."
Heavy snow prevented him from immediately investigating the sighting. "However, I will go up Ben Venue when the weather clears," he said.
Constable Brown said there had been no reports of missing animals, although one local farmer had reported a wild black goat with horns on his land. "But you wouldn't mistake that for a puma."
Mr. Richard O' Grady, director of Glasgow Zoo, said at the risk of offending people who thought they had seen pumas or panthers, it had been found time after time that their eyes had played tricks on them when there was no scale to measure the animals against.
He said that what Mr. McCann had probably seen was the Kellas cat - a cross between a domestic and Scottish wildcat.
16 th March 1995
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