|A POST-MORTEM examination on a goose has lent substance for
the first time to long-running speculation that big cats are at large in
the British countryside. Police in Essex are taking the possibility seriously
after receiving a report from a veterinary pathologist who examined the
12lb bird, found dead on a farm near North Weald more than two weeks ago.
"I have always been sceptical about the big-cat stories",
Ranald Munro, of the Veterinary Laboratory Agency, a government-funded
body in Edinburgh, said last night. "But to my surprise this seems
to be the only explanation for the death of the goose. The bird had been
killed by a bite to the neck, but what was unusual was the imprint of five
claw marks which had cut deeply into the muscle on the right side of the
chest. The paw mark was at least two inches wide, substantially larger
than any domestic cat. A dog would not leave this kind of sharp, penetrating
wound. I can only conclude that a large cat, probably of the size of a
lynx, was responsible."
Numerous sightings of a large cat or cats have been reported in the
Fyfield and Matching Tye areas of Essex over the past two years. The injuries
to the goose were so striking that the police decided to send the carcass
to Dr Munro. Quentin Rose, a wild animal trapper consulted by the police,
said: "It is certanly a large cat - a panther, I should think."
Copyright 1998 Times Newspapers Limited.
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