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You are in: Gloucestershire > Nature > Nature Features > Big cat in the Stroud area?

Paw print in snow, possibly a big predatory cat

Paw print with razor-like claws

Big cat in the Stroud area?

Conclusive proof has been found of a big predatory cat living in the Stroud area of Gloucestershire - that's the belief of leading cat expert, Frank Tunbridge, who writes the following...

Quote mark

The initial interest for me in this evidence was when a lady from the Stroud area of Gloucestershire said that she had discovered some unusual large isolated animal tracks in the ice and snow on Saturday 12 January 2008.

"Where there is something to eat, there is something to eat it. It's the old survival adage and this certainly seems to be the case here"

Frank Tunbridge

Exhibiting very knife-like claw marks in some of the tracks not ever seen in any canine prints, which always impart blunt claw impressions.

Cats often use their claws for stability in adverse conditions, at other times keeping their razor like tools sheathed when in locomotion.

These pug marks were approximately 3/4 of a mile from the location of the deer kill mentioned below, which was discovered four days later on Wednesday 16 January 2008.

I believe that these two pieces of evidence are linked confirming the presence of a big predatory cat in the area.

Paw print in snow, possibly a big predatory cat

Print compared to lady's glove & shoe

Scoff at the idea

There have been many reports of elusive big cats especially of black colour ration in the Stroud Valleys over the years, and my long research and investigation into this topic has proved this so.

Until a decent clear photographic image of a black cat is produced, especially one feasting on a deer, many members of the public will scoff at the idea of large dog-sized wild cats existing in our countryside and some urban areas.

Where there is something to eat, there is something to eat it. It's the old survival adage and this certainly seems to be the case here.

Anyone who has any information/sightings concerning the subject of big cats in Gloucestershire can get in touch with Frank Tunbridge, either by calling 07711 476715, or email:

Evidence: Roe Deer kill

I have taken some photographs of a Roe Deer kill which has been extensively eaten by a large predator.

I believe that a British Big Cat is responsible for the death of this deer; all the hallmarks are there,

  1. A large amount of flesh consumed in a short time (the deer kills was approximately 8-10 hours old when photographed).
  2. Most of the ribs bitten off close to the spine (giving easier access to internal organs etc).
  3. Badly twisted broken neck and strips of skin torn from nose area (sustained in initial attack).
  4. Drag marks, where the deer was pulled into some cover (dense brambles) to be consumed at leisure out of sight, which is typical big cat behaviour.
  5. Skin and fur were peeled back in a clinical way as is often the case in big cat kills.

UPDATE: Monday 4 February

A muntjac deer kill was reported to me on Sunday 31 January in the Nympsfield area of Stroud - killed by a large predatory animal and consumed from the rear (typical of some large cat behaviour).

Dog walkers possibly disturbed the animal at its meal. Although not definitely a big cat kill, initial attack to neck area could be attributed to a dog as some savaging is apparent, big cats have been known to shake smaller prey.

Muntjac deer are an introduced species from India and China, roughly the size of a large fox and are predominantly browsers, keeping to close cover most of the time.

Unquote mark

The Muntjac killed was found in an open grassed area, not far from a track occasionally used by vehicles and dog walkers.

If you wish to see the photographic evidence of the above two deer kills, please click 'Next' below BUT be aware that you may find the images distressing.

last updated: 14/12/2009 at 08:06
created: 31/01/2008

Have Your Say

What do you make of the latest evidence? Do you think there are big predatory cats living wild in Gloucestershire?

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Paul (formerly Edge, Painswick resident)
Some 4 or 5 years ago l was dog walking on Edge Common in the early morning. It was barely light and the dogs took fright but luckily were on leads. We had just entered the common from a footpath just across the road from the Edgemoor Inn and l saw a large black cat sat looking at a large cow just feet away.The cow was sat on the dirt track at the lower side of the common and didn't seem concerned. It was really quite scary and l led the dogs away walking backwards to keep an eye on the animal! It didnt move but we did! At the same time several sheep had been killed and mutilated locally (Edge) but we had assumed it was probably a dog. I never went back to the common after that until fully light.

lily anne norton age:10from tetbury
some times we have cats that escape the zoo and found wondering around,it could be a lion or a tiger it looks by the footprint that has been left that it is a lion i love resherching on big cats and i kindof notice that it might be tiger thank you very much for getting this.

They are big cat kills for definate, ive witnessed cat kills in africa and america, I have also seen wild cats in three parts of the uk [mainly wales] cornwall and also the west midlands,they are definately out there,why people doubt it in my opinion is quite pathetic its perfect habiTAT for them despite what the goverment like to think and tell people,Yes there is savaging to themuntjac carcass but the teeth marks are just way to deep to be a dog,the only two dogs that could possibly cause this damage would be a dogo argentinio [argentinian mastiff] and the fila brasileria [BRASILIAN MASTIFF] THATS ALL FOLKS....

John Creedon
Deer found this am just outside Nailsworth -what else could do this but a large beast?

Andrew Goodair
Just looking at your page, has made me write in. On thursday 29th Nov 2007 me and my wife saw a wild cat on the walk from Bourton about 11 miles circular walk through Naunton? via the slaughters. The animal was near a farm and was approx 50m away from us. The animal seemed to have a dark brown coat rather than jet black. I've written it in my diary as "saw a wild cat today 95% certain. It clocked us and disappeared very quickly but for the next mile or so it was really eerie and felt like the eyes of the beast were following our moves. The mrs felt the same."

Keith Calton
In the late 80's I was travelling into Painswick at about 4-5 in the morning just before dawn (the only lights on in the village were in the newsagent/post office) and a cat with a long heavy puma like tail crossed the road in front of me. It was about the size of a fox and tawny and displayed no alarm. I had site of it for enough time to assess the size, I don't know if this is of interest,Keith.

There is big cats and wild dogs in rural britain. English folk lore says so. In a town near us there is a story just like this

i think that there are big cats living in the area!!i have been told that there was a reporting of one in robinswood hll sighted at the golf course the other side of the hill

i think they is cats living wild in gloucestershire? and it is not nice to see muntjac Deers like this

Jim Falvey
Many people have seen a Black Cat larger than Labrador at Cannock Chase Staffordshire so I asked one of the Rangers who said that he hadn't seet a Cat but had found Muntjac & Rabbit carcasses which could have been taken by a Cat. Apparently a Leopard sized cat only needs 2 rabbits a day to survive. If they are largely nocturnal then maybe there are more than we think. I for one have never seen a badger and they are native noctural animals

Hi, we have some birds and recently many of them have been eaten, we thought it might be a fox, until yesterday one of our geese was taken, we couldnt find any trace of it around our area, these geese are very large, and we really dont think a fox could pick it up and take it away, so we arent sure what it is, but it may be a large cat, we also found large cat like footprints in the area, so theres more reason to believe that it could be a panther,Thanks

Ben Clarke
I think there could be bigcats in britain as the signslook promising on the internet/google thankyou.

Rick Minter
Hi IsaacThe deer kills are the hard evidence these elusive creatures leave that is most detectable. Of course not all dead deer are suspects, but some of the carcasses have the large predator's hallmarks.

it's just a paw print, couldn't you get any more evidence? the print could just be a print from an escape tiger from a zoo.

Rick Minter
A message to George about public safety: There have only been a handful of alleged incidents of people being scratched by non-native cats in Britain in the wild, and even a couple of those cases are doubted by some people. The cats have plenty of their proper prey around, especially their favoured deer, and they presumably regard us as an inconvenience and even a risk, as they assume we can fight back or would injure them in a struggle, and they need to keep their eyes, teeth and claws intact for their own survival. I think Neil below, has it right - they would fight back if we threatened them, otherwise they may be curious and watch us but they are not inclined to stalk us. Also, in the remote chance of stumbling across one, make sure they have an escape route and don't do anything they would perceive as directly threatening. Remember that a lot of people, including witnesses find the fact that we have these big predators around exciting.

George mole
I think it is really worrying for my family and myself but one question? Would the big cat attack humans?

Michael Cutler
I have seen very large black cats near Ruscoombe, Stroud while walking my dog, very early mornings and at dusk.We came across one last week on a dirt track used by dog walkers, which leads to the farm, although we obviously disturbed it, we did not appear to frighten it at all.

Neil. A. W. Cunninhgam
I know a few people that have had sightings, my father being one of them!I believe that they will leave us alone if we leave them alone!

Paul (Bristol)
This subject is a bit like UFOs isn't it? A friend and I watched a large black cat (puma size) stalking sheep in West Wales some years ago. We observed it for over half an hour through binoculars from about 500 metres. We were on a ridge above the animal and there is really no doubt in our minds what we saw. Needless to say we were amazed. Most city dwellers have never seen a wild deer, yet there are thousands around Bristol. Cats are even more elusive. It is peculiar that most of the sightings are of black cats as they are known to be very rare in the wild, resulting from a mutation. It is also a shame that so many hoaxers get involved justifying some of your more incredulous replies.

Tim (Glastobury)
There are big cats on the somerset levels. I have been tracking roe deer for years and during this time i have come across pug marks and deer carcases in trees and in dense cover with large amounts of damage to their neck areas. From what i know about big cats even though i have never seen one in England I feel they do exist from what ive seen. I mean how can a deer end up 10ft up in a tree?

Tony (Brockworth) 16/10/2008
In the early hours of Tuesday 16th October 2008 around 3.00am i saw in my rear garden a large creature. I have a bird table which i place biscuits on for the birds and other wildlife. To my amazement i saw a large lump were this table is on my rear lawn.I looked at it for a couple of seconds then to only watch it get up and move away.It moved in a stealth like manor with such poise and grace. I have only ever seen this in a Panther/ Lepard type creature.It was completely black i noticed it had a large tail as it moved across my garden then with a stealth type movement jumped over my neighbours fence into the darkness. It vanished. [Tony - please can you email with more details? - David, BBC Gloucestershire webmaster]

yes i do think big cats can live in england and i think it is ablack leopard ihave seen the footage of the exmoor beast i have rised leopards so i known thatit is possible that the exmoor beast and the gloucestershire big cats can be leopards

my friend said he saw a big black cat lyk creatire in bush hill park(north london) he sed hiz 100% sure it was a panther ..but l dont beliave him

I have seen it too, near Chepstow in 1998 and more recently too, one in broad daylight with 4 other witnesses!

YES there is I saw a panther

i think that by the looks of things there are deffinatly big cats in the area, and precations should be taken for the sake of the public and the cats.

adam cross
on the 30th of augest me and a freind were jogging in neer by the butterfly reserve neer cleeve hill view point, when we saw a big black creature move very quickly through the long grass! it wasnt a dog for sure and definetly wasnt a cow!

John would you mind telling me abit more about the sighting you saw? if you dont want to talk about it its okay. I'm studying Zoology and Cryptozoology.

John from Cheltenham 04.07 08
I saw a large black cat crossing a lane near Cowley Manor. 04.07.08 @ 1045 amIt was far too big for a domestic cat and totally the wrong shape to have been a dog. when I stopped my car and got out the sheep in an adjacent field were making a lot of noise sounding like they were panicked. The"CAT" had gone to ground under some bushes, but reappeared after about ten minutes when it stretched itself then sauntered off towards the lake. I have a Springer Spaniel and this animal was much bigger, with a long tail almost the length of it's body. I was no more than 100m. from the animal and it was quite aware of my presence.I was on my way to make a delivery to The Green Dragon at the time and began to tell the lady owner what I'd just seen, she almost stopped me in mid sentence and said she too had seen the animal.........The lane it crossed is only narrow and able to take one the "Cat" crossed, it was over half the lanes width..I was very sceptical about such things until today, now .....I can only explain what I saw..And in case you are wondering...I don't drink, or smoke dope and I'm not on any medication

ben dover
the beast of gloucestershire must be like the beast of bodmin only wetter

It is completely plausible (I had to force myself not to type paw-sible then lol) that big cats exist. Theres the food source, exotic animal keepers and the lynx population from long ago. These factors could create a small, depleted big cat populace, however, theres just as much chance there isnt.

Jake - Glouceser
PAUL - We do not have wolves in Britain best mate told me that he had seen a panther (black cat) on cranham common chasing after a fox.

dan day
im not sure hat it could be a teacher who works at my school has apparently seen it i dont think a fox could bring down a deer and i dont think their are wolves around here alot of my friends have said they seen it who knows it could be real

paul burgham
Saw the pics of the deer .Cougars are a pretty big cat ,we have lots of them here (canada ),they will eat deer ,moose etc.After they have fed they will cover their prey (sticks ,twigs etc).Usually a big pile of fur & some bones is all thats left .Maybe you have wolves !!

paul burgham
You guys have some out of work fox hounds these days .Maybe you should train them too hunt cats!.We have cougar hounds here (canada).It will give the fox hounds something to do!

Has anyone actually seen this massive cat? I can't believe people are so preoccupied with the whole idea, I only came on this site by accident-get a life!! bye X

Jayne Porter
you are not likely to hit one of these animals with a car they are clever, unlike some domestic cats and dogs that would just run out infront of you. i saw a big black cat with large pearcing yellow eyes about to cross the road at the bottom of Rodborough forte. it was nite time and as i aproached in my car it froze i couldnt beleave whot i had seen i turned around to try and see where it went and it had vanished. I will never forget the eyes and the size of that animal.

chemical ken
i saw a big cat crossing coronation square in hesters way. he had a long leather coat and dark glasses. he was real cool man.

Gary Outhouse
I gave up looking for the big cat years ago. It put too many grey hairs on me. It probably is out there, though, but I aint gonna find it.

Earl Lebrie
If Paul Bennett et al are to be believed, Glos'shire must be the world capital of scepticism. I have seen a big cat in Briain (nr. Bristol, actually) and photographed it. However, my skills & imaging software cannot hide the fact it was at a zoo.

I would like to see one of these cats get hit by a car. If I found it, I'd keep it might come in handy.

Patrick from the pond
LIES. The only big cats I've ever seen in Gloucestershire are the ones the aliens dropped off from their flying saucer. These ones were vegetarian so this article is utter scutter.

Paul Bennett
Big Cat's - my eye! Pumas in Painswick??? -Yeah right!!! Anyone who believs this should try trapping them by dressing up in a huge mouse suit wait for them to pursue, and then drop an anvil on their head! Or perhaps an acme bomb. Too many cartoons on TV puts people into cloud cuckooland imo.

Who's Real world
Will - cats don't always have claws retracted and if walking on snow and ice, well... Look how needle like those claw marks are and compare them to any dog claw marks.Shirwhirl: Yes,leopards stash carcasses up trees if they think their prey will be scavenged. Several examples have been found across Britain.Guy: why is it claptrap exactly? The lynx was native to Britain and there was a European leopard that survived after the ice age into Italy, so no problem in cats flourishing in our landscape and all its tasty deer, rabbits etc. People have exotic pets and not everyone is as responsible as we might think.

I thought the big cat sightings reports had more credibility before this article, with the dog pawprint-in-the-snow, appeared. Remember kids, it's always best to stick to the truth. Will is correct.

I thought big cats such as pumas, took their prey up into trees to consume! Have any carcasses been found in trees?P.S. I wish our schools would teach kids to spell & use grammar properly!!!!

what a load of claptrap! whatever next? mind you facts can be stranger than fiction. I have just seen three green mongooses swallowing front door keys whilst singing crude football songs. I think they have just been to the races.

It's a dog print. Cat's keep their claws retracted.

Upton St Leonards - Grounds of Bowden Hall, sighting of large black animal, believed at first it was a local labrador, but when I aproached it from about 20 metres it looked up and ran. I mean it ran properly, not just a large labrador running away, much more like a large cat. First sighting, 7:30pm. Will be keeing an eye out.

Crayg Jordan-Smith
Apparently there isn't sufficient prey out there to support the larger predatory cats such as the panther, they'd have to kill livestock just to survive....but I've seen some pretty convincing photos of panthers...such as the albino one...XxXxX Crayg

tim mash
I have had many people come in to MASH and tell me they have seen big cats from all around our lovely country side and sold night vision monoculars to people who say they have seen them and wanted a better look I also have had people buy them to watch otters deer and wild boar but how many of us even new they were on our doorstep ! they cant all be drinking scrumpy can they !

Me tinks somebody be pullin' me leg. Nice one man. lololol!!

paul skelton
well just a quick comment from me! there is i believe at least 100 wild boar now roaming free in the forest of dean but you try and find them! there large animals and not always that shy!my point is me and my uncle know there rough where abouts but cant manage to find them to date! if 100 large boar can prove so elusive whats the chance of seeing a few really shy big cats? as for the deer kill that you would think would turn up on nearly every walk in the woods i have just one question! where are all the deer carcases that die from natural causes? i have lived here in the forest of dean all my life and have never found one!!! my point is if a cat killed two deer a week and dragged it into dense under growth the chances of it being found ARE slim!

Mrs Cynthia Cuckold
I know for a fact there are big cats in Cheltenham. My husband has been working late a lot lately. When I saw there were severe scratchmarks on his back he told me, his voice shaking, how he had been attacked in Montpellier by a black puma on his way home. Those scratches were deep, painful looking, and too big to be from a domestic cat.

David Kempster
I can confirm that without doubt large cats do exist in Gloucestershire. My Mum's tortoiseshell is quite big but my sister's ginger Tom is huge. His name is Dennis and he eats THREE tins of cat food every day. Personally I would reduce his intake as he could be classified as clinically obese. On saying that my sister is rather portly as well and you know what they say about pets and their owners.

paul of green street
I was chilled to the bone marrow at the photo of the print & the victim's glove & shoe. I notice a lack of blood on the snow and wonder if the poor victim was actually taken by a big cat - or was it alien abduction?

On my lunchbreak
Maybe these beasts can be caught using a bowl of kellogs frosties as bait.

Cat Protection League spokesperson
I suspect the Loch Ness monster for these atrocities as a tartan blanket was found near the alleged victim. Definitely not a cat as they all hate tartan.

Mr Who's Real World?
Paul Hubbard: Why would there be "many many many regular sightings of these cats" when their very nature is to conceal themselves and be nocturnal and crepuscular? Watch any documentary on leopards and puma, lynx etc and you will see how stealthy they are, when the film makers take ages locating them in the heart of their known territory. Oh, and by the way, there have been 7 sightigs reported in Glos to Frank Tunbridge in 08 so far, including from the same location by different people.

Mr Who's Real World?
I don't think anyone has been categorical about this Mr RealWorld (only one real world acording to yours is there?), but there are a combination of poss prints, poss carcass and local sightings, so it seems there's valid speculation to be had here.

Guy Williams, the picture has been blurred out by the BBC and you are given the option to view it at your discretion. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink).lol

paul hubbard
If these animals are living on these small, overcrowded, islands, and having to hunt for food each day, there would be many, many, many regular sightings of them all the time, and thus we would be in no doubt by now. These phantom cats that appear briefly, then dissapear again, are 99% peoples overactive imagination.A nice story to tell the kids at bedtime, but dont spend too much time looking.

mr realworld
That deer has been dead a lot longer than 8-10 hours and what you can see is from badger and fox chewing on it for 2-3 days.

guy williams
The photo at the top of this article has been blurred out. Looks rather hoaxish to me I'm afraid. Has nobody got anything useful to do these days. I'm off to watch my next doors washing line now as it looks impressive in the wind. You never know a puma might appear from nowhere and attack a passing crocodile. I'll have my (blurry) camera at the ready just in case (nudge, nudge, wink, wink...)

Peter Taylor
yes - I am sure there are big cats in Gloucestershire - in 2002 I was camping with my children in the Forest of Dean and they were spooked by a large green-eyed black panther which they saw by torchlight as it stalked them. I and my partner also heard a big cat 'belly growl' at night. A trustworthy friend of mine saw a large black panther in daylight in the Mendips in 1998.I think government should recognise their presence and support a research programme - and I also believe the public should accept them as an exciting, if dangerous, addition to our fauna.

Why is it that when the subject of Big Cats seen in Britain is brought up there are always people that thinks it's funny to take the mick out of witnesses.People have seen something unsual, whats so funny about that.I know someone who used to do the same, making fun of people who had big cat sightings, until one day it happened to him and a big cat jumped onto the road in front of him.

Guy Willyums
Whenever something like this happens it's always black cats that get the blame. This epitomises the ills of the modern world, black has become a metaphor for bad. What I'd like to know is when is a white cat going to get the blame for something naughty or bad?

sceptic simon
It was the man in the moon chasing Shergar and Elvis who were making crop circles with some claw footed aliens I should imagine. Yes that sounds about right. Whatever next? Tuh!!!

walter drink
did anyone find a really large bell , it may of fallen off its collar

John Drinkwater
I am a rambler & in April 2006 I was walking with a friend in Batcombe, Somerset when we experienced sighting an unidentified animal. It was an event neither of us will ever forget& was an example of how easy it is to get carried away on the spur of the moment. We were about to enter a field when directly in front of a jet black animal appeared on a ridge about 300 yds in front of us .Unfortunately we had no binoculars . We were both totally mesmerised as it made it's way from left to right, it then dropped down onto its belly & we could only see a bitof its back. Suddenly a black & white collie dog appeared running from the same direction as the other animal. It came to an abrupt halt when it saw the black animal lying a few yds away. The black one stood up but did not move away , there was a face off for a short time until the black one started to move away . We ran into the field desperate to get closer, it was now carrying what looked like a rabbit which it had caught while lying down. We failed to get close enough to get a proper identification. To my knowledge there are no totally black british animals & it was this that confused us. It is difficult to explain the experience to anyone not there but it was a wonderful example how ones power of observation can be lost in such circumstances. The only logical thing I managed was to judge its size in comparison with an object nearby, when we got to the spot where it had laid down. We found the spot was the site of a rabbit warren & suspect it had caught a young one. The animal was no bigger than the collie & was not another dog & yet we both thought there was something familiar about the way it moved, we now think it may have been a black fox, at the time I did not know there was such a thing. Have you ever come across one? We will never forget the experience & are glad we both saw it together , we will always regret we did not have binos with us & I doubt if we will see anything like it again. However we also realise how easy it is to get carried away on the spur of the moment & loose ones powers of observation. The whole event probably lasted several minutes & was not a fleeting sighting as so many of these thigs are, it really was a wasted opportunity.

Rob Ward
I have seen and photographed a deer that had a similar fate a couple of years ago.I will send in my pics, as I think Frank might like to see them.When I found the deer, it was mutilated and vertually stripped to the bone.The head was nowhere to be seen and I put it down to being hit by a car, staggered into the wood and died, then eaten by our lovable wild boar, which do eat meat.Anyhow, with the Black Panther having a territorial range of 100km, I am not going to lose any sleep.Rob

Chris Moiser
Whilst not disagreeing in any with the possible existence of a number of non-indigenous cats being present in the UK/Gloucestershire I have some concerns about this animal having been killed by one. The body is suggestive of a large predator kill, particularly with the volume of meat taken, but in the small zoo that I run in Somerset we had some animals killed with 7 - 10lbs of meat taken from each and a vague appearance of a big cat kill. It was in fact a fox that was killing and a badger following up - the joint effort made it look like a big cat kill, or to some eyes, even a wolf kill. Badgers may bite through bones to access the organs behind, and do drag their food around at times. It is not impossible for the prey animal to have sustained a broken neck and lose skin from the face when being dragged.Yours Faithfully,Chris. M. MoiserManaging DirectorTriopiquaria

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