‘Big cat’ out on the prowl in Wakefield

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A “PANTHER-like” beast spotted prowling the countryside is the latest sighting of a mysterious big cat thought to be living in the district.

Claire and John Booth saw the animal, which resembled a large black cat, on farmland near their Notton home on Sunday.

Mrs Booth, 40, of Notton Lane, said the animal was much bigger than a domestic pet.

She said: “It was between four and five feet long. It looked panther-ish.

“It was definitely a big cat. You could tell by the way it moved and the length of its tail.”

Mrs Booth said her husband John, 40, spotted the animal at around 7.10pm and reached for his binoculars.

She said: “My husband came dashing past me and said, ‘there’s something in the field’. Even from the distance of our window, which is about 300 yards, I could see how big it was.

“It was just walking up and down the field. We observed if for a few minutes before it went into a wooded area.”

The sighting follows several reports of big cats which date back to 2000, when the “Beast of Ossett”, another unexplained sighting of a large animal, made national headlines.

Three years later, a large cat-like animal was seen stalking the village of Wintersett. And there were also reports of a puma-like beast roaming between Ossett and Alverthorpe in 2006.

Danny Bamping, founder of the British Big Cats Society (BBCS), said keeping big cats as pets was outlawed in the early 1980s, but some owners failed to give them to a zoo or have them put down. There was evidence some were released.

Mr Bamping said: “You could buy a cheetah at Harrods up until 1973.

“There have been quite a lot of sightings. These animals are very real. They are nocturnal and they can cover huge distances – 25-30km in a night.”

He advised people to report sightings to the police and to the BBCS by logging on to www.britishbigcats.org

Anybody with pictures or video footage of big cats spotted in the district can contact the Express on 01924 433013 or via editorial@wakefield express.co.uk