Report from George Markie
Fife's claim to be the "alien big cat" capital of Scotland was given further credence today when the police confirmed they'd received reports of another sighting - this time on the Rathillet-Cupar road, writes Michael Alexander.
A Fife Constabulary spokesman explained that a 41-year-old Cupar man called the police at around 11.30pm on Saturday after seeing what appeared to be a "large, dark-coloured animal" near to the carcass of a deer.
On being disturbed, the animal made off over the fields, whilst a subsequent search of the area in the darkness proved negative, the spokesman added.
The latest sighting comes just weeks after research said Fife and Angus were leading the pack when it comes to recorded sightings of "big cats" in Scotland.
More than 50 big cat reports have been made in Fife during the last five years, while over 25 have been made in Angus.
The figures are revealed on the Alien Big Cats website, which has catalogued reported sightings from 1926 through to the present day.
The data is compiled from information reported to police forces around the country.
In recent years, Fife Police have recorded numerous reports of sightings, but no actual proof of a big cat's existence has been found.
Whether there is more than one animal on the loose is unknown, but there have been occasions when more than one person has been involved in a sighting.
The majority of sightings in Fife have been made in the north-east of the Kingdom - including the Rathillet, Cupar, Crail and St Andrews areas. In March there was a sighting at Dalgairn on the northern outskirts of Cupar, just a few miles from this latest sighting, while in Angus there are clusters around Arbroath and Carnoustie.
Perth & Kinross and Dundee have relatively few recorded sightings - between five and 10 each.
One man who has become something of an expert on the subject is retired police officer George Redpath, who has collated information on incidents.
On the brink of his retiral in 1999, PC Redpath was working in the Balmullo area and himself saw a large cat twice in the space of a few days.
His description of a large black cat with a long tail, which "sat on a fence and looked at him", matches the information to have come from recent sightings.
It is not known for certain whether these black cats, thought to be black panthers, pumas and lynx, are on the loose.
However, there is a belief that the introduction of the Dangerous Animals Act of 1976 encouraged people who kept such cats to release them into the wild rather than have them destroyed.
Dundee Evening Telegraph, 19 th June 2001
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