Friday, 22 April 2011

Fears for children from ‘big cat’

Mum frightened to leave her baby in garden after dog was attacked

By Mel Fairhurst

Published: 16/04/2011

A mother living near the home of the mythical Loch Ness Monster claims a real-life killing beast is on the rampage in the area – and warned it could be a threat to children.

Terrified Katrina Wallace says she is too frightened to leave her 12-week-old baby unattended in the garden after her dog was attacked and a lamb was killed by a big cat-like creature which is thought to be prowling woods near her Drumnadrochit home.

Mrs Wallace’s husband, James, 38, first spotted the animal in the family garden at Ancarraig House, Bunloit, and thought it was one of the couple’s two black labradors.

He said it was black with a long, cat-like tail similar to that of a puma or cougar.

Weeks later one of the family dogs, Breargh, was attacked in the garden.

Mrs Wallace said: “There was blood all around her eye and her hind leg was ripped to shreds. The vet said she had been dragged by an animal bigger than a dog.”

Following snow showers in March, large paw prints which measured 4.5in by 3in were photographed by the couple, and a couple of weeks ago, they were horrified to find a lamb from a neighbouring farm had been killed. It had a puncture wound in the back of its neck.

Mrs Wallace said: “The paw prints came from the woods towards the house. A friend of ours who does a lot of shooting and has tracked animals confirmed they were cat prints and a big one at that.

“If I could, I would move. I have been told by police not to scaremonger. They said they needed more DNA evidence, but what more evidence can we give? My children, aged 12 and 14, are terrified and none of us will go outside alone after dark – we go out in pairs with a torch.”

Mrs Wallace added: “This animal attacked my dog which was lucky to escape, but what chance would a child have against an animal like this when they cannot fight back?

“I want this to be taken seriously because children and walkers are at risk.

“We have heard other stories of sightings of one or two big cats – one farmer in Kiltarlity said he lost 20 sheep to two of them.

“I think it could be something to do with the big cats which were released in the 1970s, which may have been breeding every since.”

Northern Constabulary carried out an investigation into the big cat reports, and also looked into complaints from residents at nearby Invermoriston about marauding wild boar in the area.

A police spokeswoman said: “Neither big cats such as pumas, nor wild boars are protected wildlife. In the majority of cases, the animals would not approach to harm humans. They are not known for their aggressive behaviour unless they are young and threatened and even then, there would be few cases. However, if we felt there was a threat to public safety, we would take appropriate action.”

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