Suffolk's big cat revelations

BIG cat enthusiasts are today insisting large felines are loose in the Suffolk area after it emerged police had been called to 59 sightings in the last five years.

BIG cat enthusiasts are today insisting large felines are loose in the Suffolk area after it emerged police had been called to 59 sightings in the last five years.

And according to police statistics, 2004 was the busiest year for big cat sightings with 18 reported to the police across the county.

The majority of “big cats” spotted were likened to panthers or pumas with some also suggesting they had seen lynx-like cats.

Danny Bampling of the British Big Cats Society said the number of sightings reported to his association was actually much higher with 60 sightings in Suffolk between April 2004 and July 2005.


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He said: “The cats are there due to being released by private owners or escaping from zoos or wildlife parks.

“They have huge territories so it may just actually be one or two cats being spotted, rather than a dozen or so.”

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Mr Bampling said Suffolk and Norfolk were well-known for their cat sightings and that Suffolk had the 17th highest number of reports of any county.

He warned people not to approach such a cat if they saw one and to report it to the Society.

He said: “People should report what they see as soon as possible.

“They should not follow it or threaten it in anyway. Nine times out of ten the cats are very timid and wary and will go and disappear in the opposite direction.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said anyone who saw what they believed to be a wild animal, and believed it may be a danger to the public should call the police. He said officers would know the appropriate authorities to contact.

Last year there were only five reports and Mr Bampling said numbers of reports had started to drop slightly, although this did not necessarily mean the population of cats had dropped.

Big cat sightings were reported in Wenhaston, Chediston, Mickfield, Carlton Colville and Ipswich in 2005.

All of these were said to be large black cats, three people likening them to pumas.

Have you seen a big cat prowling the Suffolk countryside? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail: eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

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