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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 March 2008, 11:08 GMT
Big cat fears stalk Donegal countryside
The animal may be a black leopard or black jaguar
There are fears that a big cat is stalking the fields of County Donegal after the discovery of paw prints, droppings and a dead sheep.

A photograph has also been taken which may show such a creature in the Manorcunningham area.

It is thought that the animal could be either a black leopard or jaguar.

There have been meetings involving the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Garda and an action plan has been put in place in case of further sightings.

Kevin McGinley from the ISPCA said there had been a number of sightings since 14 February when a farmer from the Letterkenny area contacted the society about a sheep kill on his property.

"I had a look at this particular kill and it concerned me enough to remove a hair and faecal samples which have been sent away to a labroratory in County Kildare for an in-depth analysis," Mr McGinley said.

"I believe it certainly wasn't killed by domestic dogs which did alarm me.

"So I thought the most sensible and prudent thing to do would be to remove any hair and faecal samples found around the kill area and send them away for a full investigation."

Keith Roulston from the Irish Farmers' Asscoation said farmers should be concerned but not alarmed by the sightings.

"I think the message needs to go out there to people to keep watching and if they see anything unusual to report it to the relevant authorities and not to be trying to take it into their own hands," he said.

"We'd be urging people just to be concerned and to be vigilant."

In 2003, the USPCA said it believed two big cats were roaming the north Antrim countryside.

It said a black panther was living near the village of Ballybogey, outside Portrush, and a brown coloured puma was roaming the hills near Ballycastle.

Something wild in the countryside
12 Oct 06 |  Northern Ireland
Panther and puma at large
24 Sep 03 |  Northern Ireland
Big cat search abandoned
04 Sep 03 |  Northern Ireland
Fears of further big cat attacks
21 Aug 03 |  Northern Ireland
Release of wild cats 'deliberate'
19 Aug 03 |  Northern Ireland

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