Big cat seen in Suffolk

MYSTERY big cat sightings have shocked people across Suffolk.Two separate incidents have been reported recently in Eyke and Great Livermere where big black cats have been spotted prowling.

MYSTERY big cat sightings have shocked people across Suffolk.

Two separate incidents have been reported recently in Eyke and Great Livermere where big black cats have been spotted prowling.

June Fooks, of Eyke, near Woodbridge, saw a black feline last weekend when she went out to fetch something from her car.

She claims that she saw a cat which was bigger than her pet Labrador prowling in her garden.

She said: "I looked up and saw it standing against the fence about 100 yards away from me.

"It all happened in a matter of seconds but I got a really good look at it. The sun was then setting and it was shining right on it.

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"It had a really shiny coat and a long tail. It saw me and then slinked off into the hedge.

"I wasn't scared at all, just absolutely fascinated. I don't know whether it was a puma or a panther, or whatever, but it would be very interesting to see how many other people have spotted it."

Mrs Fooks said that after talking to several people about the cat she discovered they had seen it too.

Her neighbour Anne Downing remembers seeing one like it about 18 months ago in Rendlesham forest.

She said: "I was coming along a pathway with my daughter and saw this black animal in the distance. It was almost in a pouncing position and when we got too near it simply fled into the bush."

And Mike Jennings of Kelsale, says he saw a similar cat while out shooting in Great Livermere at the weekend.

He said: "It was a good distance away from me but I was on high ground so I had a good view.

"It moved about 100 yards across the field, looked back and then went through a hedge.

"I'm out in the country a great deal and I've never seen anything like it before.

"It was dark and cat-like, about the size of an alsation, maybe a bit bigger.

"I told the gamekeeper about what I'd seen and he says that there have been footprints over there."

The British Big Cats Society received reports of 28 sightings in Suffolk last year while 113 sightings were listed in Norfolk and 129 in Essex.

It is thought that the majority of these cats were released after 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act was introduced.

A licence to keep the animals became necessary and owners had to improve their facilities at great expense.

Owners who could not afford this were forced to give their animals to zoos or have them put down and some were released into the wild.

Danny Bamping, spokesman for the British Big Cats Society said: "Suffolk is a rural area in which people were likely to have private collections of this animals up to and after 1976.

"They may have been released into the wild and bred with other big cats, creating a hybrid.

"60-70% of sightings reported are of large black felines but most people are unsure what they are seeing.

"Cats wish to remain illusive and so the sightings are rare and short-lived but I have no doubt that there are such cats in Suffolk.

"These cats have a huge territory and they can cover over 20-30 kilometres in a night.

"It is my belief that every sighting represents another three which have occurred and not been reported."

If anyone sees a large cat they are reminded not to approach it, or allow their dog near the creature although attacks are extremely rare.

Mr Bamping added: "If you are face to face with the animal the best advice would be to keep still and keep your eyes on it – once the cat realises that it has been spotted, it will go off in the opposite direction.

"We really would ask anyone to report these sightings to us so that we can follow then up whether they be last week or ten years ago."

Sightings of cats can be emailed to the Society via their website at www.britishbigcats.org.

Helen Briggs, a spokeswoman for the RSPCA said: "There have been sightings reported in the Eastern region in the past.

"We would advise people who see such animals not to approach them and to contact the police."

Have you seen the mysterious black cat? Can you shed any light on what it might be? Write in to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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