Panther seen bounding through fields in St Albans

PUBLISHED: 12:47 20 March 2017 | UPDATED: 13:09 24 March 2017

Could there be a Beast of Hertfordshire? Another resident has reported seeing a panther (file photo) in the district.

Could there be a Beast of Hertfordshire? Another resident has reported seeing a panther (file photo) in the district.

Getty Images/iStockphoto

A “stunned” Harpenden motorist says he has seen a large, panther-like animal leaping through fields in St Albans this week (March 17).

The 66-year-old man, who did not wish to be named, was driving at about 45mph along Marford Road at around 1pm on March 17, on his way to do some shopping in Hatfield, when he spotted the large black animal by a dip in the verge.

He said it was “jet black, with a big long black tail, and a club like head, bounding through the field” – the man is sure it was not a cat because even though it was far away, it was huge, and he believes it was a panther.

Unfortunately his wife, who was also in the car, did not notice the beast, and he could not spend too long looking because he was driving.

He said: “It was a quiet, lovely, sunny day, with nothing on the road when I saw it, and I thought, ‘gosh, that’s a big cat’, and for a second I was stunned.

“But as in all of these occasions, it happened very quickly. There was that realisation moment - that’s not a cat. It was unmissable.”

He imagines the experience is similar to seeing the Loch Ness Monster, when you “don’t believe your eyes”.

Unconcerned, the man said he has no qualms about returning to the road, and was just “taken aback” at the time.

He was not familiar with any of the other sightings reported to the Herts Advertiser before a Google search at home.

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, and a big black cat was spotted near Luton Airport in October last year – the Harpenden man who saw it was also convinced he had seen a panther.

A Freedom of Information request to Herts Police also revealed that about 30 big cat sightings have been reported around St Albans district in the past five years.

The Cat Survival Trust founder, Terry Moore, who looks after wild cat species on a 12-acre site in Welwyn, said a puma had been seen in the area, and a black leopard came to this district until 2014.

In the case of a sighting, Herts Police advise keeping a safe distance away and phoning 101 to report it.

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Recently we, as a family (minus two of the kids), visited The Lodge RSPB reserve in Sandy, Bedfordshire. I had never been before, which is perhaps amiss of me as a birdwatcher as it is the headquarters of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds or RSPB and only 45 minutes drive from home.

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