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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 16:11 GMT
'Big cat alert' issued to farmers
Big cats like this puma are believed to be getting closer to towns
Farmers have been asked to be alert for big cats that have been seen roaming the British countryside, killing sheep and alarming the public.

The National Farmers' Union appealed for its members to be the "eyes and ears" of the countryside.

"There is anecdotal evidence among farmers and society at large that there are big cats roaming wild in our countryside," NFU deputy president Tim Bennett said.

The cats are thought to have escaped from private zoos or been abandoned as pets.


Robin Goodbeer, of the British Big Cats Society, founded three years ago to log sightings, said the number of big cat animal kills and sightings was growing steadily.

There are even reports of young animals, suggesting they are breeding
Robin Goodbeer,
Big Cats Society
"They are of pumas, leopards and jaguars," he said, adding that there had been more than 1,000 sightings in 2002 and more this year.

"There are even reports of young animals, suggesting they are breeding.

"There have been no attacks on humans reported here, but they are getting closer to the edges of towns and cities," he added.

Two years ago, a wild Eurasian lynx was found wandering around Cricklewood, in north-west London.

It was captured and now lives in London Zoo, where it goes by the name Lara.

Big cat concerns continue
17 Nov 03  |  Northern Ireland

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