|Picture: The RUC with a wild Lynx they shot in 1996 near Fintonia (Contract pics)
Beast on Beagh? Part 2
Part 2 continued
Some may remember the Panther and Puma mentioned in the above links, due to the international coverage they attracted at the time. The PSNI, reputedly only failed to shoot one of the cats when it was successfully lured into a trap, only to have a french TV crew trying to film it, appear in their line of fire!
The main reason for all these sightings of Big Cats is due to the legislation, or rather the lack of it for years. No license were required to have the odd Tiger or Puma in a cage at the bottom of your garden, one for poor Fido yes, but not for that man eating Bengal Tiger you own! Don't believe me, think Buck Alec. Recently N.I. law was supposedly updated, regarding dangerous animals, to bring it into line with England and Wales, and possible stop individuals moving to northern ireland with their "exotic collection" . But as what happened in England, Wales & Scotland, I suspect has now happened here. Namely, that rather than pay for a license, improvements to the animals quarters & accept regular inspections from some government department, they just dumped the animals in the countryside. The north coasts puma and panther being the prime example of this.
Here is a couple of links to sightings in Co. Down, just incase you thought the Mournes were Big Cat free! Those Mv'ers who are members of the UFRC may recall these:-
Although it would be reasonable to assume, that over the coming years, the Big Cats released, or more accurately "dumped", into our countryside would simple die out of old age, this is not the experience in Scotland where legislation was brought forward much earlier. Perhaps because of a higher release / dumping rate, there are now claims of a breeding population. See Below:-
So, perhaps this autumn, whilst descending from that last relative hill of the day in the gathering dusk, the one you thought you could squeeze in on your the way home, as its only a forestry track and you will be up and down in no time. You hear the crack of a twig breaking on your right hand side and a low growl on your left, just as your head torch starts to faded. Will there be any scepticism then?, or will the hairs on your neck stand up and that once warm sweat turn clammy and cold? Discuss.
Me, i have been lucky and seen 2 Big Cats in the wild, one in Patagonia this year the other several years ago on the slopes of Slieve Commedagh in the Mournes………………