|A mutilated muntjac deer - killed by a big cat?|
"The mutilated muntjac corpse, stripped down its spine and missing a bottom half, was found last month (March 1) at about 8am along Sheepcote Lane in Wheathampstead by a 44-year-old dog walker, who wished to remain anonymous.
"Her interest was piqued when the dog started sniffing around something on the ground - it turned out to be chunks of fresh meat littering the undergrowth.
"When they continued to walk she stumbled upon the rest of the left-over remains, pictured above.
"As its eves were clear black she believes it had been freshly savaged, and when she returned the next morning it was gone.
"She said: 'I don't know what did it - I heard about female foxes killing things, but I really don't know, it was stripped.
"'It looked like a big animal.'
"Rumors have been circulating about the cat where she lives, for example gossip of a miniature pony taken from a farm, but nothing substantial until now.
"Friends at the pub suggested the deer had been run over, died, and set upon by smaller animals - but she dismissed this because it had been 'completely stripped.'
"Her first reactions were 'interested,' 'curious,' and 'wow'.
"Big cat sightings in the St Albans district have been reported numerous times over the last few years, but until now no evidence had been produced and most witnesses saw it only fleetingly.
"In January this year two staff members at Oakland College in St Albans saw a large sandy-colored cat with a long tail on campus near Hatfield Road.
"A big black cat was spotted near Luton Airport in October last year and in March a driver thought he saw a panther bounding through fields in Wheathampstead.
"The Cat Survival Trust founder, Terry Morre, a charity which looks after wild cat species on a 12-acre site in Welwyn, saw a puma by Hatfield Station and believes it has come from a private collector who has released it.
"A Freedom of Information request from the Hert Advertiser revealed Herts Police have received about 30 big cats reports in the last five years - they advise a safe distance is kept and it is reported on 101."
As an interesting side note - I'm actually reading a book on big cats right now called Wild Cats of the World, by David Alderton. One thing big cats are noted for is moving their kill after they catch their prey - he notes: "After making a kill, cats will often carry off their quarry some distance before eating it, while the leopard will even drag a large animal up into the tree, caching it here, so it will be relatively safe from scavengers." So, if there is a big cat around St. Albans, it wouldn't be surprising if it moved its kill to a different area.