Report from Chris Smith
I read with great interest the letter (23 rd November) from local resident Nick Wirsten who obviously knows his subject. However, I was somewhat surprised by the misleading and indeed alarmist comments from Mr Daniel Bampling of the British Big Cat Society (Big cat returns to Hawick). Amongst other things, the gentleman refers to "an attack on an 11-year-old boy on the Welsh Border last year". If Mr Bampling were to examine the nature of the boy's scratches, he might conclude, as medical and big cat experts have, that they were probably inflicted by a sharp cutting implement such as a knife or scalpel rather than a cat's claw.
Readers of the Hawick News have no need to be alarmed by the BBCS's tales of fantasy big cat attacks in Wales. There have been genuine sightings, but no attacks, in Scotland, one of the best known examples being in 1980 when a puma was trapped near Inverness. She was named Felicity and spent the rest of her days at the Highland Wildlife Park. When she died she was stuffed and can still be seen in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery. Closer to Hawick, two Leopard cats were trapped and killed in the Borders in the late 1980s. Details of these and other Scottish Borders sightings can be found at: http://www.bigcats.org/abc/borders.html
The Scottish Big Cat Team aims to build as complete a database as possible concerning the sightings of all non-native cats (either big or small) in Scotland. It also will provide and exchange information in an open and frank manner to all interested parties. Our website at http://www.bigcats.org/ contains details of more than 500 sightings of non-native cats in Scotland and we are always interested to hear from anyone who has seen a non-native cat. We would like to thank all the readers of the Hawick News who have contacted us to draw our attention to the recent events in the area.
Dr Christina Smith
Scottish Big Cats
Hawick News, 30 th November 2001
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