Report from George Markie
See Montrose Waterworks for comment on this photo.
A freshly killed rabbit and a tuft of black fur caught on a fence were found by Montrose Police yesterday after they were called out to investigate the sighting of a puma-like animal. The alarm was raised by John Dewar who saw the animal on the hillside behind his house near Kinnaber water works.
"I was going to out to the car when I saw something out near the bins at the back of the house," said Mr. Dewar. "I nearly passed out when I saw it."
Mr. Dewar said the animal was black, had a long curving tail with a blunt end and was sitting like a cat. "It's head must have been three-and-a-half to four feet above the ground. It was in no hurry and ambled across the hillside. It seemed to be looking at me. It was bigger than a Labrador. There is no dubiety in my mind. It was not a domestic cat."
Police carried out a search of the area on the Northern outskirts of Hillside village, between the water works and the railway line, and found the dead rabbit and tuft of fur close to the spot where the animal had been spotted. The rabbit was still warm and had no visible signs of injury. The search was abandoned as daylight faded and police asked the public to keep a wary eye open for the animal.
Sightings of wild cats date back to the 1960's and 1970's when people used to keep them as pets. Following an act to control dangerous animals, many wild cat owners let their pets go free into the countryside.
Wildcat expert Quentin Rose has said that wild cat owners had three options - buy an expensive licence, give their pet to a zoo or have the animal put down. Many people could not afford licences and zoo's could not take all the animals offered so some people released them into the countryside.
He has identified 27 areas of the country where there are wild cats and he is concerned numbers will explode over the next few years if the government does not act.
Dundee Courier: 8 th, February 1998
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