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EDITIONS
 Wednesday, 8 January, 2003, 11:50 GMT
Expert calls for action on big cats
An expert on big cats is calling on the government to stage an inquiry into reported recent sightings, following a further report of a panther-like animal in Carmarthenshire.

Professor Alayne Street-Perrot, who travelled to the United States to study big cats after her horses were attacked six years ago, says the animals may be breeding in the wild.

It was a panther, without a doubt - jet black - and its muzzle was covered in blood

Mike Shepherd

A big cat was sighted on Wednesday in Llangadog, close to where a farmer's dog was killed by an animal resembling a panther.

Prof Street-Perrot said: "It's very difficult to see what can be done, in that the government has let the situation get this far.

"A lot of these cats were released after the Dangerous Wild Animals Act in 1976 and if the problem had been nipped in the bud then, we wouldn't have the problem we do now.

"Unless they are still being released, they must be breeding.

"In locations with a lot of wooded cover, where cats are being seen regularly, people do have to be careful."

In the latest big cat sighting, a lorry driver saw an animal at the Co-operative Creamery at Llangadog on Wednesday.

Armed police were called after the driver reported seeing the cat near vehicles at the creamery shortly before 0200 GMT.

The cat was not traced, but Dyfed-Powys Police are viewing CCTV tapes from the area.

Police marksmen are continuing to stake out the smallholding near Llangadog where a whippet was killed on Sunday.

I wasn't frightened until it hissed at me

Mike Shepherd

Handyman Mike Shepherd saw at least one big cat attacking his seven-year-old dog, Peter.

He said: "I saw the dog on the floor with the animal right above it.

"It was a panther, without a doubt - jet black - and its muzzle was covered in blood.

"By the side of it was a smaller one.

"I've seen them on television and it was a puma, leopard or a cat of that description.

"I wasn't frightened until it hissed at me."

Pathology results

A post-mortem examination arranged by the Welsh Assembly's Wildlife Advisory Unit will take place to determine what exactly killed the dog.

Dyfed-Powys Police, the National Assembly and the dog's owner will be informed of the pathology results.

A police officer investigating the sighting also saw the animal.

Officers armed with high-powered rifles are now watching the site of the attack from hides in case the animals return.

Farmers working near the latest alarm are being urged to patrol in pairs and carry powerful torches as a way of protecting themselves from possible attack.

'Vigilant'

A police spokesman said: "Farmers are advised to be extra vigilant in the hours of darkness when it is believed that the cat is more active.

"Farmers should at best be in pairs and carry high-powered torches.

"We ask that local residents do not attempt to search for the cat as this action is both dangerous and will adversely effect the police operation."

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Prof Alayne Street-Perrot
"It sounds to me like a panther, which is a black leopard."

More from south west Wales
See also:

07 Jan 03 | Wales
28 Aug 02 | UK
26 Mar 02 | Wales
05 Feb 00 | UK
26 Aug 00 | Wales
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