New sightings of ‘big cats’ in Cornwall reported to police

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Two other sightings of ‘big cats’ in Cornwall have emerged – one resembling a panther and the other described as a bobcat or lynx.

The reports are part of five ‘big cat’ sightings – including a lion believed to have been seen in North Devon in 2021 revealed by Devon and Cornwall Police.

Three were panther-like animals and the other was described as a bobcat or lynx.

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The reports emerged in response to a Freedom of Information request to Devon and Cornwall Police asking for details of all ‘big cat’ sightings over the past year.

The first was in January, in Torrington in North Devon, when a caller reported what he thought was a black panther.

The creature was about 3 feet long, with a long, slender body. He reportedly jumped over a 6-7 foot high hedge.

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The next was in June in Helston when a caller reported what he described as a bobcat or American lynx.

The police report said: ‘The caller was walking down a path when she saw the cat sitting in front of her, she turned and walked away and the cat disappeared. No further comments.

In August, in Starcross, near Dawlish in Devon, a caller reported a black cat larger than a Labrador dog that came out in front of their car.

The newspaper read: “Caller reporting a sighting of a very, very large black cat that crossed the road in front of his car and jumped over a massive hedge. The cat was bigger than a Labrador dog. He jumped over a hedge at least 7 feet high.

The fourth report was described as a lion in South Molton in Devon in November. Police attended the scene and checked with local animal parks, but no lions were reported missing.

The police diary entry from November last year read: ‘The caller thinks he saw a lion about 20-30 minutes ago. I spoke to Exmoor Zoo and it’s not from there. All of the big cats in Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park were considered.

The final report of the year in December was in Redruth when a caller reported a walking black cat that looked like a panther.

The police report said: “The caller saw a very large black cat. This big black cat was huge and didn’t look like a house cat, it looked more like a panther and walked like one too.

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There have been reports of big cats living in the wild in the countryside for many years, the most famous being known as the Beasts of Bodmin and Exmoor.

An expert has claimed the increase in sightings of big cats in the countryside last year was due to them becoming bolder after the lockdown.

He followed a series of big cat sightings in Cornwall in late Aprilincluding a big cat sitting on a trailer in a field near Roche, a spotted puma crossing the A39, a big black cat in St Stephen and others in the Penryn area.

In one incident, holidaymaker Carl Foss, 36, reported approach within a few meters of a caracal near Whistman’s Wood on Dartmoor in May last year.

Caracals, often known as African lynx, are native to Africa, Asia, and parts of Pakistan.

They can be recognized by their long, pointed ears which have tufts of hair at the ends and stripes on the face.

Mr Foss said: ‘The cat was about three feet from me. I couldn’t see everything because he was standing on top of the hill. He was sandy in color and had black stripes running from his eyes to his nose.

“The ears had black tips. He stopped and stared at me for a moment and ran away. He was more afraid of me.

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