Wednesday 7 January 2009

Do Big Cats Roam in Britain?

Do Big Cats Roam in Britain? -- The papers are awash with the latest story of how big cats really do roam in Britain. But do they? This time the evidence is stronger than ever. It comes from a Forestry Commission Surveyor who was carrying out a deer survey using thermal imaging equipment at night in the Forest of Dean. View Larger Map The surveyor says this, "I couldn't tell you how big they were or what they were. They were just large, full cats." How can this be good evidence then? He couldn't tell how big they were. They might be a Lynx a medium sized wildcat extinct in Britain since the middle ages but they could simply be feral cats. Some domestic cats can be as large as or larger than wild cats (see a comparison). The Lynx weighs about 22 lbs the top end of domestic cat weight. Some Maine Coons weigh more though. Then there are the F2 Savannahs that can weigh more than 22 lbs. So there is a real possibility that these cats are feral or even stray cats. They might even be domestic cats out for a stroll at night to return to their cosy home in the morning! There are far more feral cats in the UK than wildcats. Maybe there are a few wildcats other than the Scottish Wildcat (which is exclusively in Scotland). But the chances of this "sighting" being a standard feral cat are higher than the cat being a Lynx or Panther, for example. Anyway, that's just me. But we are yet to actually see for sure a big cat in the wild in Britain despite the ton of supposed sightings. Do Big Cats Roam in Britain? -- the jury is still out. 

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