Report from Chris Smith
A big cat is suspected to have carried out an attack on a North-east farm.
Farmer James King, of Conland Farm, near Huntly, discovered the carcass of a lamb which had been "meticulously" skinned and stripped to the bone by a predator.
And experts today confirmed they suspect a big cat was responsible for the slaying.
James was checking his 400-strong flock on Sunday when he made the grim discovery.
"I was taken aback by what I saw," he said.
"The carcass had been completely stripped bare with not a piece of flesh left on it.
"It was so meticulously done it looked like it had been cut with a knife."
The animal's fleece, which was left intact, was found beside the carcass.
James said he had never seen anything like it in a lifetime of farming.
James added: "I have seen plenty of dead sheep in my time but this was different.
"Dogs which kill sheep break the bones and leave a ragged mess."
James said recent events had changed his mind about big cats. "Previously I thought people who saw things like this may have had a bit of a drink.
"But recently two of my colleagues saw a big black cat and I have no reason to doubt them."
He added: "This animal will be well fed for a while but no doubt now it knows where to find its next meal."
David Strachan, of the Scottish Agricultural College, helped examine the skeletal remains of the year-old lamb.
"The carcass is very similar to cases we examined five years ago in the Huntly area," the veterninary investigations officerhe said.
"Those were attributed to a big cat-like animal and this would appear to fall into the same category."
A Grampian police spokeswoman said: "Since other people in the Huntly area have also seen a large feline, we would advise other all farmers to be wary."
In recent years, there have been many theories over big cat sightings, with some people claiming a panther may be on the loose.
Anyone who believes they have seen the animal involved in the latest incident should call Grampian Police on (01224) 386000 or the Evening Express on (01224) 344180
Aberdeen Evening Express: January 10 th 2001
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