Report from Chris Smith
A Vet believes that he has found further evidence that big cats are lurking in dense woodland in Moray. Aron Bowers has discovered what he is convinced are paw prints belonging to a feline the size of a lynx or puma.
Mr Bowers made his find near Pluscarden, where there have been a number of sightings of big cats over the past 20 years. The prints were three inches in diameter and three-quarters of an inch deep, suggesting that they were left by an animal much bigger and heavier than a domestic cat or even a wildcat.
Mr Bowers made a plaster cast of the prints, which were left in wet sand, and took a series of photographs.
They are not the first big cat prints he has found while out walking in the Moray countryside, but he believes that they are the most conclusive.
"I'm pretty convinced that they are cat rather than dog prints because there are no claw marks," said Mr Bowers, who works with a veterinary practice in Elgin. "Combined with the size of the prints, that suggests it is something the size of a lynx or a puma."
Mr Bowers has taken a special interest in big cat sightings since he moved to Moray five years ago.
He has come across a number of dead sheep which his professional knowledge tells him were not killed by dogs or foxes because of the way the carcases were stripped.
Sightings of big cats in Moray and elsewhere in Scotland have increased in regularity since he first reports in the early 80s. At least one has been captured alive and expert opinion is that they are hybrids of domestic cats and the Scottish wildcat.
Mr Bowers's theory is that big cats roaming the countryside are descended from animals released into the wild on the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, which required owners to obtain a licence and ensure that their animals were properly caged. He believes that some owners who could not afford to meet the requirements of the legislation chose to release their cats rather than have them put down.
Press & Journal, 15 th April 2003
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