Big cat warning: Predators on the loose in Britain scavenging for food like urban foxes

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Sightings have been reported across Gloucestershire. However, the neighbouring county of Somerset seems to also be a hot spot for these out-of-place animal sightings as well. It has been claimed big cats are often seen closer to towns and villages in some cases scavenging for food similar to urban foxes.

Frank Tunbridge, from Podsmead, has studied wildlife for decades and has a special interest in exotic wildlife which is found in the UK.

Over recent months, the 74-year-old has received dozens of emails and calls about reports of big cat sightings which have happened across Gloucestershire and beyond.

He says Somerset is also a popular area for big cat sightings and he has spoken to witnesses over the years about their experiences.

Mr Tunbridge said: “To a large majority of the British public, the thought of big predatory cats similar in description to a black leopard or a puma stalking through our woods and fields is unbelievable.

“Yet to a witness who has observed one of these elusive and stealthy creatures at close quarters, the experience is unforgettable and it lives with them forever.”

He added: “Since the start of lockdown, they have become bolder, and are often seen closer to towns and villages, in some cases scavenging for food similar to urban foxes.”

The public may scoff at witness reports of big cat sightings, but there were numerous sightings last year in Somerset.

In each witness account, they have described what seems to be the same big cat.

In 2020, a woman living on the outskirts of Paulton claims to have seen a big cat “running through her garden”.

Her son, Derek Bond, spoke of what happened the day the sighting occurred.

He said: “She heard this noise of something which dropped into the yard behind. She heard a clatter but then this thing walked by her.

“It must have been big as it made thumping sounds on the pavement while it was walking.

“She fell over backwards as she was surprised at what she saw and lost her balance.”

He ended: “She said she doesn’t know what it was.”

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Lorry driver Allan Simmons claims to have seen something similar when driving near Gurney Slade and thought for a fleeting moment he had managed to catch the creature on his dash-cam.

Mr Simmons said: “I was driving my lorry out of Gurney Slade back to the depot in Chilcompton around 3.30pm in a heavy hail storm.

“As I got to the brow of the hill before the Old Down Inn, I clearly saw a large black cat run from the field on my right straight through the hedge, across the road and into the opposite field.”

Sarah Kamette, who lives in St Johns Road in Timsbury, believes she saw a similar animal at around the same time. While struggling to get to sleep the night of the encounter, she decided to get up and make herself a drink.

Ms Kamette explained: “I was not sleeping well as was up having a cup of tea about 3am, my security light went off as I was going back to bed.

“I looked out of my bedroom window to see a very large animal strolling into my neighbour’s front garden.

“I thought to myself, ‘wow, that looks like a jaguar’, as it had a very distinctive long S-shaped tail.”

Additional reporting by Kim Horton



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