Big cats: Gloucestershire the latest spot
The belief that big cats roam Gloucestershire has been bolstered by an image of a furry black figure sprinting through woodland in Nailsworth.
The picture was taken by a trip camera, set up by a landowner who had previously spotted a big cat near his home.
Big cat trackers believe the image gives further credence to the belief the animals roam Gloucestershire.
Tracker Frank Tunbridge said: "I don't know what sort of cat it is, but we have used the wooden steps in the photograph to scale it, and we believe it is around 42 inches long.”
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Mr Tunbridge, who on average receives reports of two sightings a week from across the county, added: "You can see that it's not a Labrador – it has a cat's profile. There have been so many other sightings in that area."
Earlier this year Paul Westwood of the Big Cats Monitor, a website dedicated to investigating big cat sightings, said: “Could big cats exist in the UK? Yes they could and with relative ease.
“There is sufficient food and cover to support any big cat, be it a leopard, jaguar or tiger for that matter – although tiger reports are very rare and evidence suggests there are none on the loose at the moment.”
But, writing in the Scotsman, he conceded: “If you see any animal at a distance that is dark in colour, the human eye perceives it as larger than it actually is.
“The RAF realised this some years ago, when it changed the colour of its training aircraft to black.”
The Gloucestershire spotting is the latest of many big cat sightings across Britain:
A large black cat was spotted roaming at night in Frome Victoria Park in September 2006.
The creature, dubbed the Badcox Beast, was seen on two consecutive evenings by two park patrol staff.
The animal was described as being three to four foot tall, six foot in length, with a dark black coat and a long tail.
Big cat experts say the eye-witness accounts suggested a panther may have been spotted.
North York Moors, 2004
Last year the Sun reported that, according to an author, defence chiefs were trying to cover up the existence of big cats roaming around Britain’s countryside.
Rick Minter, author of Big Cats: Facing Britain’s Wild Predators, claimed staff at RAF Fylingdales, North Yorks, saw the body of the “puma”.
In June 2004, a local paper reported that a large cat “the length of a sheep” was killed on the Pickering to Whitby road near RAF Fylingdales.
A large black cat was spotted walking along a dry stone wall that was 3ft high.
It was estimated the cat, believed to be a young black leopard, was at least 18 inches high and 3ft long excluding the tail.
Alness, Highlands, 2008
On December 19, an elderly woman reported being attacked by a large cat in the Highlands.
BBC News reported that Pat MacLeod, 74, from Ardross Road in Alness, told police she was injured by a 3ft-long cat while putting out her bins.
Mrs MacLeod, who suffered deep cuts to her legs and cuts and scratches on her hands, needed stitches in hospital.
A force spokesman said there had previously been sightings of big cats in the area, but no reports of attacks.
Ayrshire, Scotland, 2009
In July 2009 police revealed a dangerous big cat was on the loose near a Scottish caravan park.
Officers issued the alert after a horse was the victim of a savage attack in the middle of the night, the Daily Mail reported.
Experts concluded the deep slash marks found on the animal’s hind quarters had been caused by a big cat, possibly a 6ft long puma spotted in the area two previous.
The animal attacked next to a caravan holiday park full of families enjoying the summer break.
A mystery big cat, described as the being size of a Labrador dog, was spotted at Steel Brow in Arlecdon.
The witness, who wished to remain anonymous, described seeing the creature walk out onto the road as he was driving to work from Arlecdon to Whitehaven.
He said it was light brown in colour, had a long and thick tail and, after making its way across the road, went through an open gate on the right hand side.
Semi-retired businessman Peter Jackson told the Manchester Evening News he had spotted a mountain lion-type creature in the back garden of his Longnor Road home.
The 54-year-old was woken by the barking of his dog.
He looked out of his window and saw what he described as a large animal with a black silky coat with large bronze coloured eyes.
"The dog was barking at it from inside our conservatory, but it approached him from the outside with little or no fear, and let out a low growl,” he said.
"I started banging on the window and when it saw me it turned at speed and bounded away through a gap in the fence and out onto surrounding fields. It looked like some sort of puma to me because you could see the power in its shoulders".
Experts believe the animal may have been a melanistic savannah – a medium-sized black cat, probably imported as a pet.
In June a Somerset artist reported seeing a big black cat while driving home after painting near Rocks Drove, on the moors between Glastonbury and Meare.
“Because it was a very narrow road – only eight feet across – I could get a really good indication of the size of the cat,” Paul Branson said.
“It was about six feet long and its tail was curled up at the end.”