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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 March 2006, 17:44 GMT
Police report solves lynx mystery
The dead lynx found in Norfolk
A police report said the dead lynx was found in a freezer
A 15-year-old mystery of whether a lynx was shot dead in the Norfolk countryside has been solved following a Freedom of Information request.

The Norfolk Police report supports claims by Danny Bamping, founder of the British Big Cats Society (BBCS), that a photo of the shot lynx is genuine.

The picture of the northern lynx first surfaced in 2003 when it appeared on the BBCS website.

The lynx was found in a freezer during a police operation, the report says.

It says the discovery of the dead cat took place when a gamekeeper suspected of killing birds of prey was being investigated.

Animal stuffed

"At the start of the search in an outhouse, which contained a large chest freezer, I asked him what he had in the freezer, and he replied: 'Oh only some pigeons and a lynx'," the officer who wrote the report says.

"On opening the freezer there was a large lynx lying stretched out in the freezer on top of a load of pigeons! He had shot this when he saw it chasing his gun dog."

Mr Bamping, of Plymouth, Devon, believed then that the 59lb adult cat, which was blamed for killing sheep, was shot by a farmer near Beccles on the Norfolk-Suffolk border in 1991.

The gamekeeper put it in his freezer before it was sold to a local collector, who had the animal stuffed.

But on Tuesday, it emerged the lynx was shot near Great Witchingham, about 30 miles away in Norfolk.

Hoax claim

It merely ended up near Beccles in the area where the collector lived, Mr Bamping said.

According to the report, officials believed the cat escaped from illegal ownership or a zoo.

Mr Bamping said: "It is great that the final pieces of the puzzle are slotting together. Some people said it was hoax, but this just goes to prove them wrong."

He said he did not know the current location of the stuffed cat, although it is understood it is in the possession of a wealthy landowner.

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