Report from Chris Smith
A large cat-like creature, which has been sighted around 30 times in the past two years in the Fife countryside, has finally been caught on film. The animal, upon which an extensive file has been drawn up by Fife Constabulary, was filmed by a women near Cupar.
The photographic evidence in the video footage has been shown to wildlife experts, and, while it is said to be "blurred and inconclusive", they are convinced police are dealing with a puma-type animal.
The creature, often said by witnesses to be dark fawn or brown, first surfaced in November 1995 when a lorry driver spoke of seeing a mountain lion or cougar on the Cupar to Kilmany Road. He described it as being around four feet long with a similar size tail.
Its most recent sighting was a few days ago near the secret bunker tourist attraction near Anstruther. PC George Redpath, Divisional Intelligence Officer, lists sightings all over the Kingdom. They have been made by people such as a gritter driver, farmers and fellow policemen. "All of them, like me, are convinced there is a big cat out there, and it is only a matter of time before positive proof is obtained."
That proof could follow shortly because the experts say that this could be the perfect time of year for more evidence to be uncovered. "Winter weather conditions such as snow or mud, preferably containing a frozen imprint, are the best for finding the footprints which could prove crucial in establishing its identity," says PC Redpath.
"The leaves falling from the trees could also uncover a scratching pole, which it will undoubtedly have, just like every domestic cat." PC Redpath himself believes it is a puma which was probably abandoned after the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animal Act some ten years ago.
"If it is not a puma than there is a chance it could be a large lynx which do after all still live in some numbers on the continent and were at one time native to Scotland. But its sheer body size, and, more importantly, the length of its tail, makes me lean towards it being a puma."
PC Redpath says there should be no cause for public concern about safety. "The truth is this creature would undoubtedly be more frightened of humans than we should be of it, although obviously it still would be a very risky thing to approach it, especially if it was cornered in anyway."
The Herald, 17 th November 1997
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