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Tuesday, August 17, 1999 Published at 08:40 GMT 09:40 UK

Special Report

Puma is 'definitely' on the loose

Wildlife expert is certain a big cat killed lambs

A police expert investigating lamb kills says a puma is definitely loose in west Wales.

The investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police follows sightings of a large cat in Carmarthenshire, west Wales, and a number of animal killings on farms.

Terry Hooper believes the presence of big cats could be result of dumping illegally-owned animals
Naturalist Terry Hooper - listed on the police computer nationally as a big cat expert - says he has rarely been able to be 100% in his opinion but in this case there was no doubt.

Mr Hooper had been drafted in to examine plaster casts of paw imprints taken at the scene of the latest attack on six lambs at Penbryn Park Farm in Whitemill, Carmarthen.

While he said one print was that of a dog, other found were definitely those of a young puma.

[ image: Remains of one of the six lambs]
Remains of one of the six lambs
But he does not think there is a great risk to humans because pumas are easily frightened.

Farmer's wife Yvonne Edwards described her "horror" when she found a field covered in blood during a routine check on the animals.

She is convinced there is a family of large cats living in the area and is eager to see them caught.

BBC Wales reporter Gilbert John speaks to Yvonne and Henry Edwards
"It would have taken at least two, if not three, pumas to make this mess. Three lambs were reduced to skeletons and others were ripped to pieces.

"I'm too scared to let my sons play in the fields now because we don't know what's out there.

"Although they say there's no danger to humans, no one can say for definite what would happen if you came face to face with a puma, especially if you startled it.

[ image: Farmer's wife Yvonne Edwards]
Farmer's wife Yvonne Edwards
People say it's a large domestic cat or dog but there is no way either of those would have caused so much damage or been so vicious."

The incident is said to have been particularly brutal as adult cats may have been teaching cubs to hunt and kill.

Mrs Edwards said she was not entirely surprised given the area's history of incident such as this.

Over the last year or so, several sightings of one or more pumas have been made on nearby country roads.

A neighbouring farmer is reported to have lost six sheep and a calf the week before and Mrs Edwards said a neighbour's horse was savaged last September and her foal vanished.

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