Report from Phil Crosby
Following today's article in the Sunday Herald my wife and I would like to report a sighting which may be of interest.
At around 04-15hrs on the 1st of January 2002 whilst driving home, my wife and I sighted a large cat crossing the A92 Dundee to Arbroath road circa 200 metres west of the Ashludie circle.
My wife and I are largely teetotal and did not suffer from visions whilst under the influence of alcohol.
The cat emerged from a southerly direction through a field abutting a new housing development to the North of Monifeith and directly crossed the single carriageway road, say 4-5 metres, in two bounds and continued into the brush opposite towards a trout farm.
Its bounding action comprised of landing on two front paws, pulling the rear legs directly behind and then launching itself on the next bound.
It had a head of a similar shape to a puma or panther, had short ears which did not appear to stand up as say those of a wildcat, and had a longish tail with a rounded end almost reaching the ground, I estimate the tail being around 10-15 cms in diameter that did not taper to a point but was rounded at the end.
The cat was caught in two light sources, our headlights from a western aspect and overhead yellow neon road lights from an easterly aspect.
It appeared that its fur was of a short hair variety, and the colour of the cat was black or charcoal.
We estimate that it was circa 80 - 100 centimetres in height and circa 130 - 150 centimetres from the tip of its head to the start its tail.
If asked to give an opinion we would say that it was either a puma or a panther.
We trust this sighting is of interest.
1 st January 2002
Follow up by Phil Crosby: Many apologies for not getting back to you sooner - a combination of many sightings being reported, prompted by articles in last weekend's papers, and also some work we have been doing with the BBC on how we set about trying to prove that big cats are out there in Scotland. Hopefully this will bear fruit and we should apparently be featured on Newsnight Scotland next Monday.
With regard to your own sighting - we have 33 sightings recorded in this general area over the last five years, and we had a similar report to your own of a similar animal only days before your own experience. This last was only around five miles from your sighting, and will be added to our website as we update it, although the detail is minimal. A fuller sighting and very close by, I have added to this mail for your information. Not knowing the area too well I am not certain how close it was, but it appears to be very close by indeed. I hope you find it interesting.
Once again my thanks for sharing this sighting with us - it is a very good description and it would certainly help us if all our "spotters" were as thorough. From your description it certainly sounds like a panther, as we believe black pumas to be very rare. We are currently seeking to establish whether such melanism in pumas may be more common in a relatively small population such as the UK than it is in the wild. On the positive side please rest assured that such animals do not pose a threat to humans, other than in exceptional circumstances, unless they are threatened or trapped in some way. I hope this is useful to you, and if you wish to know more I would be happy to help you.
Further information on cat sighting:
Thank you for the information. The distance between the location of our sighting and that of Mr. Clark would be around 500 metres maximum. If the woods he refers to are West of Ashludie Hospital the distance would reduce to circa 200 metres and the pathway of cover would have directed the cat to cross the A92 at the point where we saw it.
The height he mentions may be inconsistent but this could be explained by the dates when the sightings took place allowing the cat to grow or by an under/over estimation of its height to the shoulder on either of our parts. The cat was circa 8 metres ahead of us when it crossed our path and so we are fairly secure in our estimation of height. All of the above may suggest that the cat sighted by us all was the same cat and that its radius of roaming is fairly constant.
Very close to where we sighted the cat, say 10 metres is the disused pathway of a railway line which headed towards Forfar from Broughty Ferry via Barnhill, was crossed by the old A92 and I believe intersects with the disused Perth-Forfar-Brechin-Montrose line. This may be the pathway that the cat or cats regularly use for fast unobserved transit and could account for the sightings in the areas of Broughty Ferry, Crombie Park, Inverarity and towards Montrose.
My wife and I have also found unusual remains of wild fowl and rabbits in woods we regularly visit to the East of the Abroath-Brechin road which we believe can be accessed from disused railway cuttings close by. The remains appear to have been subject to a particularly violent end, the rabbits with crushed skeletons, the fowl a collection of feathers as if they had been crunched whole and the feathers spat out.
To our knowledge this did not seem to reflect the behaviour of a native predator. This wood is also inhabited by deer which could prove attractive targets for a predator. I am busy today but I could let you have the relevant map references by Monday if this is of interest. We are not afraid of the cat but of course we are circumspect during our regular walks in the woods of Angus. I wish you every success in your efforts to establish that a panther or panthers are wild in Angus.
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