Puma scratches tree near St Albans after another sighting

PUBLISHED: 12:36 07 April 2017 | UPDATED: 10:28 10 April 2017

Adult male cougar snarling with mouth open and teeth bared - stock picture.

Adult male cougar snarling with mouth open and teeth bared - stock picture.

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Deep scratch marks were left on a tree after another “huge puma” sighting has been reported near St Albans.

A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, was walking her lhasa apso dog at 4pm in the summer, when she saw what she thought was a “weird big dog” pacing back and forth at the top of a steep hill on Robbery Bottom Lane, Welwyn.

As her pooch is nervous of other dogs, she was originally wary - and was suspicious of its odd movements.

At about 50 metres away, the walker realised it was no dog and was a big cat, picked up her puppy, and ran all the way home.

She described the experience, which was about four years ago, as frightening: “I am so sure it was a puma, it was huge, and because of the way it was moving.

“I was really scared, but there were lots of stories going round at that time and I went home and thought, ‘yeah, it was a puma’ - it looked like a puma, big and muscly.”

The walker thought the “absolutely huge” big cat must have escaped from The Cat Survival Trust, a conservation charity which houses numerous breeds of wild cat in Codicote.

Although her mum was sceptical, the next day she reports deep scratch marks were left on a tree at the scene and later called the trust to warn them - they told her nothing had escaped.

She said she hates herself for not taking a picture: “I just have no idea how it survives, and it was really close to the residential area.”

Dr Terry Moore, the director at the trust, is not surprised by the sightings and has seen a big cat himself by Hatfield Station.

He advises witnesses to stay still, lest they trigger “the chase” in the wild animal - see a video of the interview here.

There have been close to 30 big sightings reported to Herts Police in the last five years, and more witnesses have come to the Herts Advertiser to report what they saw.

In the last month, a witnesses told us an animal with a three foot feline tail ran in front of his car near Sandridge.

The police recommend reporting any big cat encounters on 101, and to keep a safe distance away.

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