Could mystery of the St Albans big cat have been solved?

PUBLISHED: 18:00 05 January 2018 | UPDATED: 16:36 12 April 2018

Is this the end to scepticism about the St Albans big cat?

Is this the end to scepticism about the St Albans big cat?

Archant

A St Albans man believes he may have finally solved the mystery of the big cat said to be prowling the district.

In June this year, a London Colney taxi driver caught controversial footage of what he believed was a wild feline entering the undergrowth on Napsbury Lane.

Sceptics denounced the film and other sightings as nothing more than a large domestic cat - even though there have been more than 30 reported sightings to police in the last five years.

But Jared Leavitt, 50, saw a still of the footage and has now suggested it could be a European wild cat.

He said: “I just thought to myself ‘Let’s see if there’s anything here, if it’s a large cat with a bit of history’, and the bands on its tail bears a resemblance with a European wild cat.”

“I don’t have any specific expertise and I am not a zoologist, it was just an appendix in the back of a book on the domestic cat.”

This species is found in mainland Europe and has a direct ancestral line to pet kitties, but is about one-third larger and often dangerously mistaken for large tabbies.

A subspecies of the European wild cat found in Scotland is unique to Britain.

Jared said: “It’s pure speculation and in some ways I was sceptical of some photographic evidence but then I did this research and I thought, ‘I wouldn’t been surprised if it were that’, because they used to range all the way down into areas like Suffolk.

“They were treated like wolves are in Montana, as pests to livestock.

“It would be quite fantastic if such a beast has made it’s way down into the south because it’s a quite rare, native and protected animal.”

The legitimacy of big cat sightings around St Albans, Redbourn, Wheathampstead, Welwyn, and Sandridge has divided opinion and accounts of sightings have poured in to the Herts Ad over the past few years.

Two separate Wheathampstead dog-walkers have found stripped muntjac deer corpses, large pawprints were preserved through an Aldwickbury golf bunker after a night of rain and a driver recently spotted what he believed to be big cat remains by the side of the M25.

Herts Police advise witnesses to keep a safe distance and report sightings on 101.

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One of my favourite summer activities as a child was pond-dipping. I was fortunate enough to grow up in a house with a fairly large pond in the garden and so my pond-dipping activities often extended over days and weren’t as much dipping as a thorough exploration of the life in the pond.

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