Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 11:42 UK

Injured horse 'attacked by puma'

Puma - generic
Pumas are 'not likely' to pose a danger to humans, said police

Police have warned the public not to approach big cats after a suspected puma attack on a horse in Ayrshire.

The animal's owner found it badly injured near Sundrum Holiday Park in Coylton on Friday, with claw and slash marks on its hind quarters.

Experts called in to examine the injuries said they were probably caused by a big cat, possibly a puma.

The incident came after a member of staff reported a sighting of a large cat in the park two months ago.

Strathclyde Police said the horse is making a good recovery and urged the public to report any further sightings.

Farmers warned

Supt John Hazlett, said: "After consultation with experts, the evidence points to a big cat, possibly a puma, having caused the injuries to the horse.

"There was a possible sighting of a large cat in the grounds of Sundrum Castle back in May, when a member of staff at the castle reported seeing a very large cat prowling the grounds one morning."

Mr Hazlett said a puma was unlikely to approach or present a danger to humans - but warned members of the public not to approach the animal, if it was seen.

If you stand still the animal will totally ignore you. They really are not dangerous to humans
Di Francis
British Big Cats

He added: "I would also ask local farmers to take extra caution with their animals and to contact police if any of them are injured."

The animal in the May sighting was said to be sandy in colour and about 4ft tall and 6ft long.

Di Francis, from the British Big Cats organisation, said: "We don't know enough from the description to say for sure but the most commonly known exotic cat that could be out there, that is light brown, is a Puma.

"There have been attacks on horses by big cats across Britain over the years. They normally involved mares with foals. The cat will go for the foals and when the mare comes in to protect her young the cat will strike at her."

Ms Francis said there was no reason for the public to be alarmed.

She added: "With any predator in the countryside you should never, ever turn and run because you then make yourself a prey.

"If you stand still the animal will totally ignore you. They really are not dangerous to humans."

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