Several large felines were reportedly seen across Gloucestershire and Somerset, with cats said to forage for food ‘like foxes’ by expert Frank Tunbridge
An increase in black cat sightings has been reported in the British countryside as the animals are getting bolder after lockdown, one expert claims.
Several large felines were reportedly seen across Gloucestershire and Somerset, where the cats are said to forage for food “like foxes”.
Frank Tunbridge – who has studied big cats for years – told Gloucestershire Live that they are “often seen near towns and villages”.
In recent months, the 74-year-old has received dozens of emails and calls about reports of big cat sightings that have occurred throughout Gloucestershire and beyond. He says Somerset is also a popular area for seeing big cats and has spoken to witnesses over the years about their experiences.
Do you have a story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tunbridge said: “For the majority of the British public, the idea of large predatory cats similar in description to a black panther or puma roaming our woods and fields is incredible.
“However, for a witness who has observed one of these elusive and hidden creatures in close quarters, the experience is unforgettable and lives on with them forever.
“So, are they there, or are they not?
“The issue of ‘big cats’ living and thriving in the UK has been going on for decades now without satisfactory outcome.
“Although the evidence for their existence is overwhelming. Facts such as confirmed DNA, deer were killed and consumed in a certain way and signs of big cat claws.
“There can be no doubt that these animals have existed over the years as a result of releases and escapes from private groups. They have secretly reproduced and spread throughout the British Isles to become naturalized, and are now part of our diverse and exotic wildlife.”
“Many of these big cats are hybrids and are now breeding correctly. Up to 70 per cent of the reports I have received refer to this fact in their description of the cat.
Together with two other counties in southwest England, Somerset has become a hot spot for reported sightings of these elusive felines.
“Since the lockdown began, they have become more daring, and are often seen near towns and villages, in some cases foraging for food similar to urban foxes.
“The area’s huge deer numbers are the main source of prey, with the small muntjac, and the larger deer perfect for them. As they say, “Where there is something to eat there is something to eat.”
“It usually appears that a series of big cat reports occur in one area for a short time, then pass, often reappearing about a year later in the same area.
“Most of these cats that have been seen are black, resembling in some ways a black panther, but also some of the big, colorful fake cats display with puma-like characteristics.
“These big cats are harmless towards people. They should be accepted as an interesting addition to the British wildlife landscape.”
In 2020, a woman living on the outskirts of Bolton claims to have seen a large cat “running in her garden”.
Her son Derek Bond spoke about what happened the day the vision happened.
He said: I heard the sound of something descending in the courtyard behind her, I heard a rumble, but this thing walked beside her.
“She fell backwards because she was surprised by what she saw and lost her balance.
“She said she didn’t know what it was.”
Bond described the animal as “strong-looking and long-legged”, saying it had “short black hair” and “at least as big as a great Alsatian”.
Three other reports described experiences similar to what she saw.
Matthew Edmonds claims to have seen something very similar to Mrs. Bond while driving on Stanton Drew.
He said, “I was driving through Stanton one night with my girlfriend around 11pm and saw a black cat who was really huge.
“It was the size of a large dog, however, it was very skinny and had a shiny black coat. I watched it, and sat next to my girlfriend.”
Lorry driver Alan Simmons claims to have seen something similar when driving near Gurney Slade and for a fleeting moment thought he had managed to catch the creature on his camera.
Simmons said: “I was driving my Gurney Slade back to the warehouse in Chilcompton at about 3.30pm in a severe hailstorm.
“When I got to the hilltop before the Old Down Inn, I clearly saw a big black cat running out of the field on my right across the fence, across the road and into the field opposite.”
Sarah Camett, who lives on St. John’s Street in Timsbury, thinks she saw a similar animal around the same time. While she was struggling to sleep the night of the meet, she decided to get up and have a drink.
Mrs. Cammett explained: ‘I wasn’t sleeping well because I was having a cup of tea around 3am. My safety light went out as I went back to bed.’
“I looked out my bedroom window to see a very large animal wandering in my neighbor’s front lawn.
“Wow, this looks like a Jaguar,” I said to myself, because it has a very distinctive long S-tail.