Cheltenham carpenter finds 'big cat' paw print
CARPENTER Alex Stewart believes big cats are roaming through the centre of Cheltenham and he claims he now has the proof.
The 54-year-old is working on a Winchcombe Street building site and came into work yesterday to discover footprints almost four inches long in the mud, just weeks after seeing a big cat at the site.
It comes as big cat detective Frank Tunbridge said the animals were becoming more urbanised and had even been seen next to the home of Cheltenham Town Football Club.
Mr Stewart believes the finds are proof a puma-like beast is on the prowl in the heart of the town centre.
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The footprint find comes after a sighting of the mystery creature in February.
He said: "I have been working there since October and I just could not believe it when I saw it there in February.
"It looked like a puma and I really had a good look at it – I was just 30 yards away.
"It had a big tail that had a mind of its own and I really wondered what was happening in front of my eyes. He jumped into a pile of wood on the derelict site.
"I mentioned it to a few people and everybody said I was seeing things and started laughing.
"But when I came in and found the tracks and a pigeon stripped to the bone I just did not believe it.
"I come from Edinburgh and I had not heard about the big cat sightings around the area before. I definitely saw it and now there is evidence."
Gloucester-based Mr Tunbridge said big cats had been spotted in Shurdington Road and next to the Abbey Business Stadium in the past year.
He said: "Like foxes, big cats are becoming urbanised and there are sightings in residential areas in Cheltenham.
"They are opportunistic creatures and scavengers so will go where there is pickings and food waste, but they do often pray on pigeons." Mr Tunbridge said a fox print would be diamond in shape compared to a more rounded print with spread out toes that would be left by a big cat.
He is in the process of contacting Mr Stewart and examining the pictures of the prints.
The sightings come in the same month as residents of Mount View Drive in Winchcombe saw a panther-like creature on the prowl.
Fur from the black beast is currently being analysed by a vet and the area has been inundated with visitors hoping for a glimpse of the cat.
Mr Tunbridge, 65, said: "I have given neighbours a good camera and we have set up some automatic trip cameras so we are hoping for some good footage.
"I think so many people looking for it has scared it off for the time being, but I am pretty certain it will come back in the future because they are very territorial."