Thursday 23 February 2017

Gardai on alert after 'sighting' of large wild cat

Anita Guidera

GARDAI have mounted a surveillance operation after reported sightings of a puma on the outskirts of a Donegal village.

A local man in Newtowncunningham, a village close to the Derry border, reported two separate sightings of a suspected large wild cat over the weekend.

Paw prints found at the scene close to the N13 have been identified as belonging to a dog, but gardai say they are taking the reported sighting seriously.

Gardai were first alerted to the possibility of a wild cat roaming in the area on Sunday morning but their surveillance operation has so far yielded nothing.

A senior garda officer confirmed that images of paw prints found at the scene had been emailed to Dublin zoo, but experts there confirmed they were canine.

"We were alerted by a local man, who knows quite a bit about animals, about a brown animal with a bushy tail bigger than a fox."

A local councillor in Newtowncunningham, Francis Conaghan, said yesterday that the eye witness was convinced that what he had seen was a very large cat.

"He is very adamant about what he saw and he is a very reliable eye-witness," he said.

Another eye witness, who came forward yesterday, also reported seeing "a cat-like animal, the size of a labrador", near the village of Burt about a week ago. He said that it was "the rare way it took off", that attracted his attention.

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