Mystery of the cat beast
HALIFAX COURIER - 29th October, 2005
A BIG cat has been spotted on the prowl in Calderdale.
Police in the district have received four reports of big cats - possibly black panthers - so far this year.
And one expert said: "There have been too many sightings of the same type of cat for me to doubt they are out there."
Two sightings of the beast with yellow eyes were reported in Cunnery Wood, off Shibden Hall Road, Hipperholme, Halifax, in August.
Another was reported near Park Road, Elland, in July, and a fourth came from a member of the public walking near Hollock Lee Cottages, Cragg Vale, Hebden Bridge, in February.
Calderdale Council countryside officer Edward Ashman said he had received a report of a sighting around three months ago in Goitside, Booth, Halifax. He said: "We have had a number of sightings around Halifax.
"I've never seen one myself and I haven't seen any deer carcasses, which I would expect to find.
"But there could be a big cat living around here. People do buy wild animals, realise they can't handle them and then release them into the countryside.
"Big cats naturally cover a large geographical area, so it's possible it could be the same animal seen in different parts of Calderdale."
Big-cat expert Paul West-wood said most sightings of the animals in Yorkshire had come from around the Halifax and Huddersfield areas. He is planning to camp out in the area over the next two weeks in the hope of spotting a big cat in action.
Mr Westwood, of Pontefract, said: "Over the years, I've had a quite a few reports from members of the public and wildlife police officers of big cats roaming the countryside around this area. Drivers have reported seeing a black panther with yellow eyes staring into the headlights of the car.
"Others have come from people walking in the countryside. In most cases the description is of a big black cat."
Other sightings have been reported this year in Huddersfield, Ilkley, Wetherby and Dewsbury.
Mr Westwood added: "There have been too many sightings of the same type of cat for me to doubt they are out there.
"They can be very dangerous and my advice is to stay still.
"Do not look the cat in the face as they will see this as a challenge and may attack."
29 October 2005