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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August, 2003, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
Fears of further big cat attacks
The farmer said he did not believe dogs were behind the attack
A County Antrim shepherd whose ram is thought to have been killed by a big cat, says he fears for the safety of children in the area.

Robert Calvin found the dead 70 kilo pedigree ram at his farm on Thursday.

It had major injuries and bite marks to its side.

None of the other sheep in the field appeared to have suffered injuries and the attack was not thought to have been carried out by dogs.

Police are investigating the incident.

"My biggest worry would be that I have nephews and nieces coming to the farm to see the stock and they go up the fields on their own," said Mr Calvin.

"If they go for a walk and come across something that is capable, no matter what it is, of doing the damage that was done to that ram, well it doesn't bear thinking about."

'Wild creatures'

Last week, an animal, thought to be a wild cat, was spotted on the north coast with several reports of sightings in the Portballintrae, Portrush and Bushmills areas.

People had been warned not to approach such an animal but to report any sightings to the police or the USPCA.

And earlier this week, police and USPCA officers carried out searches in woods outside Cookstown after reports that an animal killed and partly ate a calf in the area.

On Tuesday, USPCA chief executive Stephen Philpott said he believed that animal might be a puma or lynx.

"People are told that these are companion animals, that they are exotic pets," he said.

"They are not, they are wild creatures and they will behave like that whenever they reach a certain age.

"These animals are being released in the countryside by irresponsible people who have bought them and can't cope with them.

"They take them into heavily wooded areas and release them.

"My own hunch is that it is either a puma or a lynx."




WATCH AND LISTEN
BBC NI's rural affairs correspondent Martin Cassidy:
"The farmer is ruling out an attack by dogs"



SEE ALSO:
Release of wild cats 'deliberate'
19 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
Search for puma continues
09 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland
'Wild cat' remains at large
11 Aug 03  |  Northern Ireland


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