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Last Updated: Friday, 10 September, 2004, 06:37 GMT 07:37 UK
Family captures 'big cat' on film
David Bacon is convinced he did not see a normal cat
There has been yet another suspected sighting of a so-called "big cat" in a remote area of Wales.

The latest claim of a wild beast roaming farmland is backed up with home video footage shot by a holidaymaker from the Midlands.

It shows what appears to be a black cat-like creature creeping stealthily through undergrowth.

A Welsh Assembly Government investigation concluded that the animal was just a domestic moggy, but big cat experts are keeping an open mind.

Nevertheless, the holidaymaker who captured the pictures on tape is convinced his recording illustrates something other than a domestic cat.

David Bacon and his family, from Wolverhampton, were holidaying in Foel, near Welshpool, when he made the discovery.

We're convinced it was a big cat and definitely not a large tom cat
David Bacon

"I take a keen interest in wildlife and I'm always peering through binoculars at things when I'm in Wales," he said.

"But on this occasion I spotted something that looked like a big cat.

"My first instinct was that the creature was a panther because it was so black.

"We were just 600 yards away from it and there's no way it was just a large domestic moggy. The cat was walking through some bracken and undergrowth.

"My son suggested it was a puma but it was too black for a puma.

"My other son ran across to us with higher strength binoculars and he thought it was a big cat too."

Mr Bacon added: "I did manage to get a shot of the cat although it was only 10 seconds long," he said.

"We're convinced it was a big cat and definitely not a large tom cat.

black panther
Experts believe it could have been a panther

"Locals in the village said they'd never seen anything suspicious before and a farmer came to see us to get more information.

"I took a copy of the video and handed it to Welshpool police, and I contacted a wildlife expert from the Welsh assembly who seemed very interested."

The film shows a black figure moving through the undergrowth. The footage is shaky, as Mr Bacon was trying to zoom in on the subject and focus the camera.

Welsh assembly wildlife experts have since visited the site with Mr Bacon.

Sergeant Darren Brown of Dyfed-Powys Police in Welshpool said he had made inquiries too.

"We contacted the RSPCA's officer in mid Wales who said he had heard nothing about injuries to stock in the area.

"We contacted a farmer who worked on a scheme called Farm Watch and he hadn't received any reports of sightings of details about mauled stock."

Film comparison

A spokesman for the Welsh Assembly Government said: "Officials from the Assembly Government have visited the site and taken video footage of a colleague standing at the same location where the video was taken.

"The same camera was used and it was taken at the same zoom and from the same position as the original video.

"A comparison of a single frame from the original video and a single frame of the video of a colleague clearly shows that the animal is the same size as a domestic cat."

Fears of wild big cats such as pumas and panthers roaming mid Wales have circulated since the 1970s with sightings of the so-called 'Beast of Bont' in north Ceredigion.

Last year, an expert was called in to investigate a suspected big cat attack on a Welsh lamb at Talsarn, near Lampeter.

The Welsh Assembly Government takes sightings seriously
Chris Moiser of the British Big Cats' Society said it was possible Mr Bacon did spot a panther and he believes some may live wild in remote parts Britain, after changes to laws restricting people keeping wild animals.

"You get three types of people who see these animals - attention seekers, the genuinely mistaken, and those who see what they think is a big cat," he added.

"Most people think that before the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976 most people released big cats they'd kept as pets.

"But that doesn't explain the sightings of big cats in the 1960s in part of Somerset and Surrey."

Mr Moiser added: "From Mr Bacon's description, the prime candidate is a black panther.

"They will eat whatever they feel like such as rabbit or deer and they will go for sheep if they take their fancy.

"Large adult males can roam up to 40 miles a night to visit females, but they will normally roam 25 miles at night."

Cat video footage
Video footage of the mystery cat

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