Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A PANTHER is believed to be on the loose in south Armagh.
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend how a large cat has been sighted by scores of witnesses including a senior member of the PSNI.
It was also reported that the panther had caused damage to cars and properties.
It was suggested that the panther has set up home in a woodland area between Markethill and Poyntzpass.
"Research shows that these animals are now feral," USPCA Chief Executive Stephen Philpott told the Times, when asked about sightings of the south Armagh panther and other big cats across Northern Ireland.
"They have been integrated into the wild. They feed on rabbits, chicken and carcasses. They have attacked farm animals but reports of that are rare."
He added that sightings of big cats could become more common when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act, preventing ownership of such animals, comes into effect. The Democrat spoke to the USPCA's David Wilson about the sighting of the panther.
"We get regular reports of this nature," he said. "We would ask people to refer them to the police." He said that while there were cases of big cats being spotted over the years it was more likely to find people in ownership of venomous reptiles.
A spokesperson for the PSNI said they had received no reports of a panther in south Armagh.