Report from Chris Smith
For analysis of the photo see Boblainy Sheep
Police are hunting a killer big cat that's terrorising the Highlands. The alert was launched after sheep were brutally slaughtered by a mystery creature.
Farmers have dubbed it the 'Beast of Boblainy' after a large puma or panther was spotted several times in Boblainy Forest, near Inverness.
Other sightings have been recorded near Stagecoach boss Ann Gloag's home in Beaufort Moor. Retired cop John Cathcart believes there could be several beasts on the loose. He said: "They're probably panthers or pumas, living wild. I recently had four separate sightings of animals near Golspie - three of them from police officers."
Local farmers have lost 20 sheep in a series of sickening attacks. In May, Davey MacLean, of Boblainy Farm, near Beaufort, lost an ewe and two lambs overnight. He said: "It is as if the animals were pulled down to the ground and eaten. A neighbour heard an awful skirling noise the night they died." John says it was not the work of dogs, adding: "Dogs kill in a pack and there are almost always bits of wool nearby."
Farmer's daughter Caroline Hutchinson, 41, spotted a large, black cat near the River Beauly - her fourth sighting....Caroline, who's also a vet's assistant, gave chase but lost her quarry. She said: "I couldn't see it any more but I knew it was there. The birds had stopped singing and there was a distinctive smell. It was amazing."
A Northern Constabulary spokesman said: "We've had numerous sightings in the past of big cats, all around the area. We take all of them seriously.
News of the World, 16 th July 2000
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