Report from Chris Smith
A black puma said to be prowling hills near Edinburgh could attack ramblers, experts warned today. A rash of sightings of a large black cat in the Pentland Hills, South-west of the capital, prompted the alert.
Inspector John Briggs, of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: "There is a tremendous amount of wild ground on which an animal like this could live without being seen for many days and weeks.
"It could even have been lying low for years before it was spotted. It may well be a large cat of a puma type and there could be more than one. We just dont know. If there is a puma out there it could be dangerous and our advice would be to stay away. It could be dangerous if it is injured as two of the sightings suggest."
One sighting was by the side of the A702 near Silverburn, where a women driver reported a big cat lying on the ground. She said it seemed to be sick.
Another report from a worker suggested that the animal had an injured leg. Three other sightings were reported to the SSPCA, but neither they or the police have had reports from farmers concerning attacks on livestock.
Big cats have been seen in other parts of West Lothian in recent months. Livingston police admitted in January they had found "large, cat-like paw prints," after a housewife spotted a cat near Breich.
Mr. Briggs said: "We've had reports of many sightings over the years but we've never been able to confirm them. However, parts of West Lothian are quite desolate - theres no knowing what's up there."
Big cats including pumas, panthers and mountain lions have been reported from all over the UK. The most famous is the 'Beast of Bodmin Moor'. A puma was captured near Inverness in 1980. Some experts suggest that big cats could have escaped captivity or been released by owners who no longer want to look after them.
Edinburgh Evening News, March, 1997
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