A puma or jaguar may be on the prowl in the Northern Ireland countryside, according to a Limavady woman who spotted the beast in Myroe.
The Sentinel reported last week how a large black cat that looked similar to a puma was spotted by a member of the public and reported to the PSNI in the Limavady area last year.
After reading the story on our website, Beryl Ewing, a local woman who knows a thing or two about animals through her work with horses, got in touch to say that she had seen a similar creature in Myroe.
“It was about the size of a big labrador, but with a much longer, sleeker, body and a big, long tail that sort of curled up behind it”, she said. “It was definitely a cat. The way it moved and everything. I always sort of kept it to myself because ones would think you were mad, but after reading that in the paper I thought, well, at least I’m not the only one.
“It was at the Lomond Road on a beautiful summer’s evening, broad daylight. I was driving, not too fast - in fact I think I was only in second or third gear - and I seen it come out of a field. It came out of one field, cool and calm as you like, slowly across the road and into the wheat in the other.
“I stopped the car and thought ‘did I see what I just saw?’ I looked out and I could see it rustling the wheat in the next field. It was jet black, no white or anything on it at all. It had a small head and a long, thin body. I was only a few yards away from it so I could see it clear as day. I wanted to go over and have another look when it went into the field but I was safe staying in the car. It didn’t seem too scared or anything, just walking along.”
Although it is some years since she spotted the beast, the discovery of dismembered livestock a few weeks ago brought the Myroe puma sighting back into her thoughts.
A close friend, another countrywoman who lives on a farm and who also has extensive experience with animals, discovered the remnants of four lambs which had been devoured in a somewhat puzzling way.
“There was hardly anything left at all, really just the tails and the wool,” Beryl explained. “You wouldn’t get that with foxes or dogs or something but with cats, they eat bones and all. It just got me thinking about that time I spotted the puma, or whatever kind of big cat it was, in Myroe.”
While Beryl’s sighting sounds extraordinary, there have been numerous big cat sightings across Northern Ireland in recent years.
David Wilson of the USPCA explained that for years in Northern Ireland there was no legislation to prevent people from keeping all manner of wild animals. “It cost you a fiver to keep a poodle but you could keep a panther for free,” he said.
Following the introduction of the Dangerous Wild Animals Northern Ireland Order 2004, which became law here in December 2006, there were numerous sightings of big cats across Northern Ireland, particularly in the North Coast area.
David Wilson urged anyone who spots a dangerous animal to report to the PSNI.