Report from Chris Smith
For two years it has been glimpsed stalking the hills and valleys of Fife. Now police have issued the first official picture of what is believed to be the big cat of Cupar.
There had been doubt that the Cupar cat existed, but that debate appears to be over. The creature, which Fife police believe might be a puma or large lynx, has been caught on film by an unnamed local woman.
Constable George Redpath, who is in charge of the hunt for the animal, said wildlife specialists who had studied the blurred photographs were "convinced" that it might be a puma-like beast. He said: "My opinion is that there is a puma living in this area, possible a result of being abandoned, (after) the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act ten years ago."
Before the act came into force, these type of animals could be kept as pets. "It is more than likely that some were abandoned in remote areas such as the Highlands of Scotland or the moors of Devon," he said. "There is the chance that it could be the likes of a large lynx, which do live in some numbers on the continent and were at one time native to Scotland."
The latest photographic evidence comes as the Government is expected to be urged today to resume its investigation into the existence of "big cats" in the wild. The call, which will be made by Paul Tyler, the MP for North Cornwall, follows the killing of five sheep near a spot where councillors say they spotted a puma.
The mystery of the phantom feline of Fife dates back to November 1995 when a lorry driver reported a cougar or mountain lion on the road from Cupar to Kilmany.
PC Redpath, of Cupar, said the driver described the cat as being four feet long, with a tail of almost the same length, common factors with almost every subsequent sighting, of which there have been 30 by the public. Cupar's cat is a far-travelled feline, too, as he has been seen throughout the Northern part of Fife, but has also been spotted near Kinghorn in the South.
The most recent appearance was near the secret bunker tourist attraction close to Anstruther. Winter may make the capture of the Cupar cat more likely, as it will expose evidence oif its wherabouts, such as frozen footprints, or leafless trees revealing the "scratching pole" which the beast would have, just like a domestic cat. Police are appealing to ramblers to alert them to any sightings of anything unusual but not to approach the creature.
The Scotsman, November 17 th 1997
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