A resident of the village of Ashley near Hale close to the Cheshire border said they had seen a “black, shadowy animal” while walking to the local pub for a drink. The local, named Cassy, said her neighbour’s dog has been left in fear of venturing alone to the end of the garden as a result.
The witness initially thought she had seen a dog.
However, the different colour from her neighbour’s golden Labrador prompted a discussion with another local, who suggested it may have been a big cat.
Speaking to the website Puma Watch North Wales, Cassy said: “We were walking to the pub and in the bushes adjoining our farm and the neighbouring property we saw a black shadowy animal which was about the size of my neighbour’s golden Labrador.
Ms Cassy said: “I dismissed it as the dog though the colour was different.
“When I got to my neighbour’s gate I saw her and her dog in the garden and said I thought I’d just saw her dog in the bushes so was surprised to see it back in the garden so quick.
“She said her dog hadn’t left her side.
“My sister whom I was walking with then said she saw it too and it was a black cat.
“I said that’s what I thought but had discounted it.
“My neighbour said she thinks she’d see a black cat too and said her dog is petrified of going to the far end of their garden.
“We concluded it was a mysterious black cat that we’d be more vigilant to catch by camera.”
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A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), said: “If Natural England (NE) were presented with credible information to suggest there was a big cat living wild and posing a threat to agriculture (such as predating livestock), it would work with Defra to take appropriate action.
“Evidence would be assessed on a case by case basis.
“Natural England would analyse any evidence presented to them, at first internally, and take expert external advice as and when it’s needed.
“Likewise, if NE were presented with credible information to suggest there was a big cat living wild and posing a threat to public health and safety, it would report the matter to the local police.
“Rare cases of escapees, such as a Lynx from Dartmoor Zoo in July 2016, tend to involve the local authority as the escape is likely to have resulted from a breach of the keeper’s Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 Licence or Zoo Licence.
“In all cases reported to Natural England in recent years, there has been no credible evidence supplied that would justify any action by Defra/Home Office/police.”
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Puma Watch North Wales has offered explanations as to why such animals may be roaming the British countryside: “When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs.
“Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since.”