Report from George Markie
Tayside Police's wildlife and environment officer yesterday expressed scepticism at the latest reported sighting of a mysterious big cat on the outskirts of Monifieth.
Local woman Jennifer Cowper was shocked late on Thursday afternoon when she was confronted by what she described as a "wild beast" near heavy rough ground and gorse less than 100 metres from the Ashludie gold course starter's box.
Her sighting was the latest in a series of cat-related incidents in the Monifieth/Carnoustie area in recent years, with a number of unexplained sightings recorded and several instances of mutilated animal remains.
Alan Stewart said the latest sighting had not been officially brought to his attention but that, as far as possible, such incidents were investigated.
"The trouble is that there is, very often, little or nothing to investigate other than to record an eye-witness statement," he said.
"I must admit to being a wee bit sceptical about the existence of big cats in the countryside around Dundee because, given the numbers of farmers and gamekeepers who are out and about at night with lamps and rifles, it would seem likely that one of them would have been shot by now.
"While not wishing to offend those who believe they have seen a big cat I would be more inclined to take the word of someone who was very familiar with our native wildlife.
"In saying that, however, I did speak recently to a gamekeeper who is convinced he saw a large, unidentified animal so, while sceptical, I tend to go along with the thought there may be something out there.
"The one thing that would settle the matter once and for all, of course, is if one of these animals could be captured and identified, and that hasn't happened yet."
The reported sighting was yesterday doing little to discourage golfers determined to enjoy the perfect weather conditions with a round or two on the courses.
One man who was on the course yesterday, and who spoke to Ms Cowper shortly after her alarming experience, said, "She seemed genuinely quite upset and asked me and some other people who were around at the time, if we had seem this big black beast.
"I certainly didn't see anything and I don't think anyone else she spoke to did either, but from the state she was in I have no reason to doubt she had definitely seen something out of the ordinary."
The man, who asked not to be named, said, "She was concerned enough to approach a woman who was out walking with her grand-daughter towards the eighth green and warn them to be on their guard.
"A lot of the people who are out on the course today - and it's really busy because of the weather - have been kidding each other on about not going to look for stray ball that go astray into the bushes in case they get eaten, but I don't think anyone's too worried about it.
"That said, I have heard people who use the course early in the morning speaking about finding great big paw prints in some of the bunkers, but I think most people put them down to big dogs roaming about on the course during the night, which might be just as worrying as big cats!"
"I'm not completely convinced one way or the other, but it certainly makes for an interesting topic of conversation."
Dundee Courier, 30 th March 2002
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