In the News
|The Western Mail January 31, 2003
THE National Assembly is to call together representatives of all police forces
in Wales to discuss claims that big cats are living and breeding in the
Officials will consider the catalogue of 170 sightings reported to police in the
past eight years and the numerous reports of animal kills, including countless
sheep, several dogs and two horses.
"Our wildlife experts are already working with police to collate all the data,"
said a National Assembly spokeswoman yesterday.
"But so far our experts have concluded that the horses and sheep were killed by
dogs, alleged big cat paw prints have proved to be dogs', and video and audio
evidence sent to us have been foxes."
The conclusions are in stark contrast to those reached by an American tracker
who is certain that big cats are alive and breeding in Carmarthenshire. Tom
Brown and Kevin Reeve of the New Jersey-based Tracker Inc say the cats are
getting bolder and warn that a potentially fatal encounter is possible in the
near future. Big cat hunters reacted angrily yesterday to suggestions by the
National Assembly that they can't tell the difference between a cat and a
badger. Pat Davies of Rhydcymerau, who has been charting the movements of big
cats around her North Carmarthenshire home for more than four years, said the
claim smacked of a cover-up.
"If they admit it's a big cat they are terrified that it will the open
floodgates to compensation claims from farmers and damage the tourist industry,"
said Mrs Davies. She said Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Mike German's
interpretation of inconclusive DNA tests as evidence that country people were
seeing things was insulting as well as complacent. "We're not bothering with the
Assembly any more. People are going to take the law into their own hands and
Electronic microscopy tests on hairs found in the mouth of a whippet killed and
disemboweled near a Llangadog small holding earlier this month were
"Tests undertaken at the Government's Central Science Laboratory in York found
no trace of DNA from a black leopard, and electron microscopy analysis of hair
found in the dog's mouth did not match those of a leopard," said the Assembly
spokeswoman. "Tests revealed that most of the hairs were from a dog, although it
was not possible to identify the breed.
"There was also some evidence that other hairs could be from a badger, although
the quality of the sample was not good enough for this to be conclusive."
Mrs Davies said the test itself could hardly be described as comprehensive.
"I've been down to the horse mart in Llanybydder today and people are absolutely
disgusted," she said.
"They're asking whether Mr German thinks we're all stupid."
Police marksmen who saw the animal are also convinced it was a big cat, and farm
worker Mike Sheppard insists he knows what he saw when he came across the animal
standing over the dog's corpse.
"It was a big cat. It hissed at me and stood its ground," he said.
The American trackers back local people unequivocally.
"We can state without reservation that there is at least one mountain lion and
one black panther, probably a melanistic leopard in the Rhydcmerau/Brechfa
region," said Mr Brown, who visited Carmarthenshire late last year.
The trackers were called in after numerous sightings and the deaths of sheep and
a Shiatzu dog.
They found cat tracks in several locations as well as areas where cats had lain
in hiding preparing for an attack.
"It is our belief that the forest in the area provides the cover and escape
routes they need to maintain their relative secrecy, and that the sheep in the
area provide an unlimited source of food," said Mr Brown.
"There have been several human/ cat interactions that would lead us to believe
that the cats are slowly loosing their fear of humans and it is likely that
there will be a deadly encounter between humans and the cats in the near
Mr Brown has been involved in hundreds of tracking cases, including locating
lost hunters and hikers, tracking and pursuit of fugitives, and tracking escaped
He is the author of 16 books on tracking and wilderness themes.
His Survival School in New Jersey has trained more than 25,000 people in the
arts of tracking.
Mr Brown's report has been sent to the National Assembly.
This website has no official or
informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever