Report from Chris Smith
Wildlife boffins may be called in to help crack the North-east's latest 'big-cat' case.
Staff at the veterinary science unit of the Scottish Agricultural College are considering inviting zoologists to join the probe into the most recent lamb slaughter mystery.
Country folk fear the bloodthirsty Beast of Bin may be on the prowl again.
A mysterious big cat was blamed for a number of sheep-slayings in the Huntly area in the 1990s. And now farmers, vets and the local wildlife ranger feel the beast may have been responsible for a new attack.
James King, of Conland Farm, Forgue, found one of his lambs stripped to the bone by an unknown predator.
The carcass was completely bare with the skinned fleece left relatively intact.
Fellow farmer Douglas Davidson, of Cairnie, revealed he had suffered a number of similar losses.
In 1994 three sheep were devoured and picked clean in the space of six weeks.
One ewe, weighing 40 kilos had been dragged 100 metres across a field near the vast Bin forest, before being eaten.
He added: "About 18 months ago I found a lamb with its whole hind leg torn straight out. It must have been something really big and powerful to do damage like that."
Douglas, of Sinsharnie Farm, is praying the beast will not strike again.
"Things are bad enough for farmers just now without having to worry about losing lambs at £50 a time."
Huntly forestry wildlife ranger Norman Martin has seen the panther-like animal twice.
"We were out shooting in the forest when we picked out an animal with green eyes with the spotlight," he said.
"It was eating a sheep before it skulked away into the woods. The second time was in daylight and it was dark brown to black, like a labrador, but twice as big again."
The Forestry Commission employee added: "I have been in the job for 26 and a half years and I have never witnessed anything like it.
"I have seen several sheep carcasses stripped clean and it sounds almost identical to what happened in Forgue."
A laboratory report by Scottish Agricultural College staff on the Forgue remains concluded it was similar to past attacks.
It states: "This case bears many similarities to previous cases in this area that were then attributed to a large non-native cat."
The Press & Journal: January 11 th 2001
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