Wednesday, 23 October 2013

'The matter is closed': new report into Blue Mountains big cat

A doctor, dentist, solicitor, clergyman and Qantas pilot have all seen it, as have numerous Rural Fire Service volunteers and an officer from the Department of Agriculture. A NSW detective spoke of how he watched the beast, from barely 50 metres away, for more than a minute. And like most others, he is "convinced" it was a black panther.

Rumours have circulated for decades about a colony of "Big cats" roaming Sydney's western fringes and beyond. But today, a report commissioned by the State Government has concluded that the many hundreds who have seen the panther are wrong.

In a review of "large free-ranging felines in New South Wales", a New Zealand-based invasive species expert, John Parkes, said the accounts were "at best prima facie evidence".

"The sightings are mostly of black animals but the occasional reports of brown or tan cats suggest either more than one species is present or people are mistaking other animals for cats. Large dogs, large feral cats or swamp wallabies have been suggested as candidates by some."
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He added: "There is no conclusive evidence that large cats exist in the wild in NSW."

The NSW Minister for Primary Industries, Katrina Hodgkinson, said: "The NSW Government will not commit further expenditure to this issue and, as far as I am concerned, the matter is closed.”



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