Report from Leo Martin
A farmer told yesterday about the terrifying moment in his fileds when he came face to face - with a puma. Now Bill Carswell has banned his children from playing in woods on his Fife farm.
He said he cornered the beast after chasing it for 300 yards in his car at nearly 40 miles an hour. Bill said: "It was the most frightening thing I've ever seen. I was driving down the farm road when I saw a huge beast in the beam of my headlights. I could't believe my eyes. It was a cat but nearly three feet high and looked extremely powerful."
Last night experts confirmed that prints Bill took from wet ground were indeed from a puma. Bill added: "It was just a few feet away. I was close enough to see it was a male. It was huge and bulging with muscle. I was too frightened to get out of my car and go for my gun."
"It lost its footing on some mud and scrambled for its balance then it disappeared over a wall." The next day Bill found three paw prints in the mud where the cat stumbled.
Two years ago he lost 12 sheep after their throats were ripped by a mystery animal - and six dogs have disappeared from the area in the last few months.
Bill said: "Experts say the cat won't attack people but I am not prepared to put my kids at risk. I am not easily frightened but I was terrified by what I saw."
"The beast I saw was powerful enough to tackle a fully-grown adult."
Police are investigating the possibility that the cat may be descended from exotic cats kept at a private zoo near Cupar, about 10 miles from Bill's Easter Clatto Farm, in the 1960's. Thomas Spence, of Dunbog, kept big cats at his home. He emigrated to New Zealand 30 years ago but there are no records of what happened to his cats.
There have been nearly 50 sightings of a beast in the Cupar area in the last ten years. One local resident managed to capture the cat on video. Countryside Ranger Susan Craig has been investigating big cat sightings for the last three years.
She said: "I am in no doubt that there is a puma roaming abou the Cupar area. The paw prints and descriptions match those of a puma. Unless someone finds a body or takes some really clear photographs this evidence is as good as we will ever get."
Another mystery beast, also believed to be a puma, has been seen on the Northern fringes of London. Police officers toured South Mimms and Potters Bar, Hertfordshire on Saturday night, warning householders to keep doors and windows locked after the animal was spotted three times in two days.
Daily Record, 28 th September 1998
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