Report from George Markie
AN EDINBURGH woman spotted a black panther while driving near Boreland on Sunday morning.
Photography student Audrey Coltart was shocked by the sleek black cat.
She said: "I was driving on the road between Beattock and Moffat, heading for Eskdalemuir, when I saw a totally black panther.
"It was sitting in the road It was the width of my car and I would describe it as being about a Labrador size - I can only describe it's head as lioness like.
"It cooried a wee bit and then took off to my right hand side into the undergrowth and I did not see it after that."
The encounter happened at 10.30 am and it was the first time Audrey had ever driven on the road.
She stopped the car and got out and decided, too late, that she should have snapped the panther with her camera.
She then knocked at the door of a nearby house and was told by the woman who answered that mounds of earth dug up with faeces had been found.
"It was a really, really, frightening experience and at first I found it difficult to take in what I had seen," said.
Audrey. "I am still shaking thinking about it.
"Being a Buddhist I would not like to see the big cat killed, but at the same time I would not like it to attack a child or kill someone."
Lockerbie sergeant Grahame Young, the area's wildlife liaison officer, said they are keen to hear from anyone who sees the big cat.
He said: "I believe many people have seen similar things but are frightened to tell the police through fear of ridicule.
"I want to make it quite clear that our officers will take these sightings extremely seriously and will record them. It is important we are alert about this type of thing so we can try and plot the areas where we have a high density of sightings."
Large black cat sightings have also been reported in the Lochmaben area in the past and at Langholm, Annan, Eastriggs and Dalbeattie. The most recent sighting was at the shore at Newbie.
Boreland resident Nancy Carruthers confirmed yesterday she had also spotted a big cat in the area about three or four years ago.
She said: "It was a large black panther and it was jumping over a hedge. I was coming home from Corrie when I spotted it. I would not like to see it again."
Anyone who spots the black panther is asked to contact Lockerbie police on 01576 202404.
Dumfries Courier, 1 st February 2002
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