A police investigation into an apparent panther sighting in North Wales has concluded that it was likely a large domestic cat.
The animal was seen in Ruabon near Wrexham in May 2020, but the result of police checks was only recently made public by Puma Watch North Wales (PWNW).
The investigation report was shared with the group following an access to information (FoI) request.
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Ruabon’s “black panther” was reported by a person who had come “face to face” with the animal.
His head, they said, was “the size of a plate.”
The witness then took photos of his footprints, which were sent by North Wales Police (NWP) to a wildlife expert for review.
They concluded: “The personal opinion is that these are the paw prints of a large domestic cat suspected of being the mancoon (Maine Coone) breed, as the prints do not show an expected claw mark. ‘a large wild predatory cat.
“A panther would also not allow close human contact as it relies on stealth and camouflage to hunt.
“The setting is near a large residential area … I would have expected many calls from other members of the public reporting strange noises, sightings and prey found in trees and other domestic animals missing. ”
Puma Watch North Wales (PWNW) said it was disappointed with the investigation’s findings, but was glad the report was taken seriously.
In its wake, another “massive panther-like big feline” was apparently filmed in nearby Pontycysyllte in April 2021.
In 2018, North Wales Police released a sketch of a ‘big cat‘ they were looking for, a few miles outside of Ruabon.
Appearing to represent an Iberian lynx, the sketch was accompanied by a warning to the public not to approach the animal, seen on the A5 between Llangollen and Chirk.
Last month, the group also obtained police records for big cat sightings in 2021, again via freedom of information requests.
These include a report made by a woman from Conwy who apparently saw a black panther “sitting on the fence in her garden” in July.
NWP confirmed that the incident had been forwarded to the Force’s Rural Crime Team for further investigation.
In April, the team was tagged again after a man from Flintshire reported seeing a ‘lynx’ entering the woods in Alltami, Mold.
Also in Flintshire, no action was taken in July after NWP received video footage purporting to show a “big puma-like cat” in a farm field in Holywell.
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In contrast, officers were dispatched to Chirk after a woman reported seeing a “dog-sized cat” in the field of the village church.
She told police that she clearly saw his face and that it “looked like a normal house cat but much bigger”. The officers made no observations on their own.
PWNW claims big cats were released into the wild after being banned as pets in the 1970s.
He believes the remote areas of Wales were popular places of liberation and that a “significant” population has thrived there since.
- Any recent and historical suspected big cat sightings can be reported through the PWNW website.