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3 Oct 2014
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Killer Cats in Wales
by Mike Thomson

Some may believe that the whole thing is a joke but police in mid-Wales aren't laughing. Squads of them are continuing to roam the countryside carrying rapid fire high velocity rifles, night sights and infa-red goggles. Numerous sightings of large black cats, resembling pumas or panthers have been reported in recent days and two came from police officers themselves.

This is no longer an operation called to assess whether such beats exist here. It's now a shoot-to-kill exercise aimed at eliminating what local police believe could be as many as seven "very, very dangerous" animals.

Cat Bites Dog

The big cat's first victim was a pet dog which had it's throat torn out by what a witness described as a "puma like" beast on Sunday 5 January. Armed police were called to it's owners home in the Black Mountains near Llangadog and an officer managed to catch sight of what looked like some sort of panther or puma. A post mortem has since been carried out on the dog and the man leading the hunt for it's killer, Inspector Phil Edwards of Dyfed-Powys Police, says it's helped to confirm his worst fears:

"The result is quite clear. It says it's been killed by a large predator."

Further tests on tissue and hairs found on the dog are expected to confirm within the next few days exactly which predator was responsible.

Mike and Pat Davies, who run a small farm at Rhydcymerau near Llandeilo, say they have no need to wait for the evidence to confirm that big cats are moving in. Mike remembers a parcticularly frightening encounter that he and his wife had recently in one of their fields:

"All of a sudden I saw a pair of eyes and then there was another four pairs of eyes in a line. On went down behind us and the other four went round another way. We had to jump back in the car and didn't dare go out again because one of them would have had us."

The couple, who say they regularly see pumas and panthers and have even recorded their cries, complain that their six children are now to afraid to play in their fields. They told me: "Somebody is going to get killed. It's just a matter of time before somebody will."

Scare Stories?

Many locals start by dismissing the whole scare as the product of over-blown imaginations. But sniggers were usually followed by remarks like:

"of course there's no point in taking too many chances so I keep my eyes peeled, particularly at night."

Farmers I spoke to were more up front. One from the village of Myddfai admitted that he now ensures that a colleague is with him when he checks his animals at night and always keeps his eyes on the bushes: "It's on the back of your mind all the time. You know, I used to go for long walks in the dark but now I just stick to the village where the street lights are and keep it short and sweet."

Inspector, Phil Edwards, insists that everyone in the area and especially farmers should be equally careful until the big cats of Dyfed-Powys are caught and shot.

"Be watchful, be mindful and report all sightings to the police. If you have to go out into the fields at night to tend your stock then go together, or preferably go in a vehicle if you have a four-wheel-drive. If you're on foot take high powered torches with you."

Whatever happened to peaceful moon-lit strolls in the countryside?!

Big Cat country: mountain view in mid-Wales.
Sheep graze peacefully near the site of two big cat sightings.
Big cat prints collected by farmer Mike Davies on his land at Rhydcymerau
Squads of police marksmen now roam the Welsh countryside. PC Marksmen Chen Yip, with mobile resopnse vehicle in background.
Death of a dog: Scene near village of Myddfai where a pet dog was butchered by " a large predator."
Inspector Phil Edwards of Dyfed-Powys Police, who is leading the big cat hunt.
Listen - The hunt for the big cat in Wales continues.
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