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Reports of panther-sized animal that 'could eat a labrador for lunch' seen by witnesses in Bedfordshire, UK village: 22 August 2016

Big cat sightings are usually taken with a pinch of salt and perhaps the suggestion that the spotter has spent too much time in the pub.

Not so in the village of Silsoe, Bedfordshire, where reports of a panther-sized animal that could “eat a Labrador for lunch” have provoked concern on the parish council and advice from the RSPCA not to feed the beast.

There has been a spate of sightings across the village of a large black feline with a 3ft-long tail. But residents in Silsoe expressed incredulity at the RSPCA’s advice.

The parish council appealed to people to be on high alert, as dogs and children frequent the barley field where the beast was reported last week.

Rob Terry was walking his cocker spaniel Issy when he spotted the big cat. “I was walking along the path and, as I stopped to wait for my dog, I saw it – I just couldn’t believe it,” he said.

“It stepped out from the barley and shot across the track. I think it had been eating rabbits as there were dozens dashing about.

“I was very surprised. The first thing I did was grab my dog, she’s a working gun dog so I was afraid she would catch its scent and chase it.”

Mr Terry described the animal as larger than a Labrador, with jet black fur and a “terrific, 3ft-long tail”.

He added: “Children play around there, it could injure or kill them and it would have a Labrador for lunch. The RSPCA told me not to feed it – I would only want to feed it a piece of lead.”

Ian Kelly, a parish councillor, said the council could do little more than post a warning on Facebook.

“The man from the RSPCA said not to feed it, as if anybody would,” he said.

“The only thing we were worried about is about people being safe. The kids are still on holiday so there is a potential risk of the animal being a very nasty fellow and attacking them.

“We have asked police what we should do and they haven’t come back to us, they didn’t seem to believe me.

“It isn’t our land so we can’t put a sign up, we have just told people it is dangerous.”

There have also been reported sightings of the animal in the nearby villages of Flitwick and Barton recently.

It is not the first time the beast has emerged . Deborah Hamill, 62, believes she and her sister were chased by a panther in Streatley, Beds, last year.

Having passed a 5ft-long creature skulking in a field, the pair pursued the cat.

“We saw a big black cat in the hedges, it crouched like it was about to hunt,” she said.

“It turned around and started coming towards us … this great big black cat, we just legged it. We only just made it back to the car, I thought it was my last day. My heart jumped up into my mouth.”

A sheep from a nearby farm was mauled within the next month, she added.

The RSPCA said it did not have specific guidance for big cats and did not wish to comment. Bedfordshire Police also did not respond to requests for comment.


Source: The Telegraph