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"Beast of Walney" or Feral Cat?

A big cat has been reported from Walney Island, England.

The Mail reports:

"SPECULATION about a 'black panther' spotted on Walney has been refuted by nature reserve staff who insist the animal is just a 'fat and fluffy feral cat'.
"A couple visiting South Walney Nature Reserve were left in  shock after spotting what they believe was a big wild cat near to the coastline.
"Retired couple Lesley Stenhouse and her partner Gary Sweetman were on a five-day break in South Cumbria last month when they decided to take a trip to the Walney beauty spot.
"As Mr Sweetman, from Coventry, recalled, as the couple wandering through the dunes they came across something that shocked them both.
"'We were walking down the path not far from the lighthouse by one of the hides,' the 60-year-old said.
"'Lesley said, 'what's that down there' and we saw a fairly big black thing slinking along. It went up the brow of a small sand dune, it turned to its side and when I saw its profile I could see it was a cat.
"'When it stood up it was next to a tuft of grass and you could tell how big it was; I'd say it was about half a metre in height.'
"Both Mr Sweetman and Miss Stenhouse, who lives on the Wirral, are certain their sighting was of a big cat and not a domestic cat or dog.
"They tried to take a picture as the animal ran away but the image turned out to be rather grainy. They found a pawprint which they took a photo of with a £2 coin placed next to it to illustrate its size.
"Sadly their sighting of the Beast of Walney was quickly refuted.
"Staff at South Walney Nature Reserve said: 'Very sorry but this looks like the very fat and fluffy feral cat who's been living on the reserve! We're aware of him and trying to catch him and rehome him elsewhere.'
"Miss Stenhouse has since responded and said: 'I saw it fairly close and it certainly wasn't fat and it  wasn't fluffy; it was far too big to be a feral cat.
"'When we spoke to the warden on duty that day he seemed very coy and never suggested it could be a feral cat.'
"Meanwhile the sighting has encouraged others to come forwards with their own experiences.
"Pam Harper said: 'My granddad lived outside Dalton. 20 years ago he saw a big cat more than once and he'd been a countryman all his life. He knew what it wasn't if you see what I mean.'
"A number of others said they have spotted a fox on the island.
"Ange Carter said on Facebook: 'Not seen a cat on my night round but a large grey fox stood next to my car. It was very long, on Earnse Bay sid,e it scared me and would not move and I'm no the only one to see it.'
"There have been more than 40 reported sightings of the so-called Beast of Cumbria in recent years, with a midwife saying she spotted a 'panther-like creature' while hiking near Ambleside in 2016.
"Danny Bamping from the British Big Cats Society, which receives reports of sightings and and does research into big cats, said in an interview with i at the time: 'There has been a lot of data coming from Cumbria of sightings in the last few months. We had reports of a big cat encounter last year, which we investigated.
"'The landscape, and the availability of food in Cumbria would be ideal for a big cat. It would be like going on holiday for a lynx.'
"The Beast of Cumbria is among a long list of supposed sightings of phantom cats in the British countryside, although some doubt whether the mysterious felines exist.
"Reports of sightings first began making headlines in the 1960s, amid claims that exotic zoo animals had escaped or been released into the wild.
"There were more than 2,000 sightings between 2004 and 2005 - mostly in the South West - according to a survey by the British Big Cats Society.
"The most famous phantom cat by far is the Beast of Bodmin, which has been making headlines for three decades and is said to have savaged local livestock."


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