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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Police alert over 'tiger' reports
Amur tiger
Witnesses reported seeing an animal which looked like a tiger
Villagers and farmers have been put on alert amid reports of a tiger on the loose in North Yorkshire.

Police conducted a search of countryside near Tadcaster after three sightings in the last week.

Officers have consulted a wildlife expert, who fears the animal may be a cub bought illegally and then released.

Paul Westwood, of Big Cat Monitors, said: "If it is a tiger, when it gets hungry it's going to go for anything that moves. It will be very dangerous."

North Yorkshire Police said they had alerted local farmers and asked them to report any suspicious livestock deaths.

A force spokesman said: "We would stress that we have no solid evidence that this is a tiger but we advise the public to be vigilant and to report any sightings to us immediately."

She said it was waist high, about six feet long with an orange coat and thick black stripes
Big cats expert Paul Westwood

Mr Westwood has spoken to the woman who reported the first sighting as she drove to work on the road between Ryther and Ulleskelf last Friday morning.

"She described what she saw in bright sunshine from 50 to 100 yards away.

"She said it was waist high, about six feet long with an orange coat and thick black stripes."

He said that description would match a 12-month-old tiger cub.

"I showed her some photographs of different cats and she picked out the tiger," said Mr Westwood.

"She was a very level-headed woman who runs her own business and she insisted that was the animal she had seen."

Further sightings

Insp Steve Ratcliffe, of North Yorkshire Police, said: "We deployed some units to make a search of the area.

"Unfortunately we were unable to confirm this sighting or locate the tiger."

Later that day, police said another woman reported seeing a big cat in a lane at Church Fenton - about two miles from the first sighting.

The latest sighting came on Thursday night from a motorist who said he had spotted an "orange-coloured" animal crossing the A1 near its junction with the A64 - just a few miles away.




SEE ALSO
Big cat seen for the third time
11 May 06 |  Hereford/Worcs
Big cat footprint goes on display
07 Mar 06 |  Coventry/Warwickshire

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