Report from Chris Smith
It has been called the cougar of Cupar, but no one has taken too seriously the 30 reported sightings in two years of a huge cat prowling the wilds of Fife. Now filmed evidence has convinced police that they are dealing with something really big, possibly even a mountain lion.
The big cat was captured on camera by a woman living North of Cupar. She has asked not to be identified but her video has finally led animal experts and police to mount a search for physical evidence of he animals existence.
Deputy Director of Edinburgh Zoo Miranda Stevenson said yesterday: "What we really need is a pawprint. From that we would be able to exactly establish what kind of beast we are dealing with and wether the claws are showing or not."
The mystery animal has been the subject of much speculation since it was spotted by a lorry driver in November 1995. PC George Redpath, of Fife Police, said the driver had reported seeing a 'mountain lion or cougar' on the Cupar to Kilmany road. The Cupar-based divisional intelligence officer has been investigating reports of the cat ever since and is convinced that it exists.
He said: "The lorry driver described the cat as being four feet long with a tail of almost the same length, and these have remained common factors with almost every subsequent sighting reported to me. Calls have been from North Fife in the main, but there are also others recorded as far West as Blairadam Forest near the M90 motorway. All of them, like me, are convinced that there is a big cat out there and it is only a matter of time before more positive proof is obtained."
Mr. Redpath has shown photographic evidence contained in video footage to wildlife experts. "Even though it is blurred and inconclusive, all of them are equally convinced that we are dealing with an animal like a puma."
Two Inverkeithing taxi proprietors have reported independent sightings of the animal. The first, John McMenamin, said: "I saw a big cat coming away from a garden at Castlandhill, Rosyth." George Le Blond, 50, added: "I saw it too but said nothing. But when I heard John describing his experiences to other drivers I knew my eyes had not been deceiving me."
Mr. Redpath stressed that even if the beast turns out to be a puma it should present little danger to the public. "But obviously it would still be very risky to approach it, especially if it was cornered in anyway." Miranda Stevenson said she was 'sceptical' about the mystery creature turning out to be a puma, cougar or mountain cat - which are all one and the same.
"I am not saying it is not a puma, but it would be more likely to be a cross between a domestic cat and a wild cat, which can be very big." She added.
The puma, also known as the mountain lion, cougar or deer tiger, can grow as long as nine feet, and when mating it emits a harsh scream, like a domestic cat.
Daily Mail, November 17 th 1997
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