Graphic content: First real evidence of St Albans big cat

PUBLISHED: 10:40 21 April 2017 | UPDATED: 11:22 21 April 2017

Was a puma responsible for mutilating the deer?

Was a puma responsible for mutilating the deer?

Archant

A ravaged deer carcass could be the first real evidence of the mysterious St Albans big cat sceptics have been waiting for, after years of unverified sightings.

Who, or what, savaged this deer? Who, or what, savaged this deer?

The mutilated muntjac corpse, stripped down to 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 eyes 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 that - I heard about female foxes killing things, but I really don’t know, it was stripped.

“It looked like a big animal.”

Rumours 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 Oaklands College in St Albans saw a large sandy-coloured cat with a long tail on campus on 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 Moore, 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.

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