Winchcombe 'panther' spotted prowling and snarling
IT HAS been spotted prowling through fields in Winchcombe and has even snarled at residents who have dared to try and get close.
Now people in a small street in the town say they believe a panther-like beast is living among them.
Mount View Drive residents have been gripped by fear and curiosity since they discovered the "big cat" wandering the fields near their homes.
Keith Baker said: "I have seen it at least 10 times.
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"It is a panther, there are no two ways about it, it is far too big to be a normal cat. I have seen it walking around the first hedge near our street.
"I went up to get a picture and it started snarling at me, which was a bit frightening."
Mr Baker has got within 20 yards of the creature and has also collected some of its fur from barbed wire in the field which he hopes could be used for DNA analysis.
He said: "It looked straight at me and there is no way it is a domestic cat. I would say there is more than one as well. We saw one that was similar but smaller, which I think is a cub."
Crowds have gathered at the new estate hoping to see the mysterious beast. And giant paw prints have dotted the fields. Mother-of-three Carrie Short, who also lives in Mount View Drive, has even managed to take some footage of what she believes is a big cat.
She first saw the animal in January.
"I was talking to one of my neighbours and something just caught the corner of my eye," she said. "I turned around and we saw it. There is no way it is a domestic cat. It was massive."
Mrs Short reckons the beast is at least three foot long from head to bottom. "I saw it pretty clearly, it is big with a large tail. Comparing it to my neighbours Labrador, I would say it is at least the same size. It looks black from far away but when you get closer, it is more of a flecked brown colour. And its facial features are not those of a normal cat."
The 32-year-old says she is 99.9 per cent certain it is some species of big cat. "I have always been sceptical," she said.
"Until I saw it with my own eyes I didn't believe these things existed."
She added: "People have said Winchcombe and Gretton are hot spots for these animals. The only time I have seen a cat that size is in the zoo."
Stories of possible sightings have bounded around the neighbourhood.
Mrs Short said one woman told her she was walking her dog and she came across a big cat lying in a field. Someone else nearly hit the animal when it ran out in front of their car.
Gloucestershire big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge has offered to take a look at footage of the animal.
He said: "There have been quite a few sightings before in the Winchcombe and Cleeve Hill area.
"It is interesting that the residents have seen a possible cub too.
"They would typically have their babies at around March time, so by now it could be a juvenile. It would be very interesting to see the pictures."