Big cat sightings on the increase in northern Lincolnshire as stripped animal carcasses are found
HAVE you seen a Lincolnshire big cat?
Fisherman Phil Beach, 34, came face to face with what he thought was a lynx picking up fish from the sea wall at Stallingborough last month.
Since then, a number of readers have come forward with sightings, including amateur wildlife watcher James Elliott, 36, of Wybers Wood, who saw a huge black cat while walking in a field in Brigsley.
In the following month, he found eight carcasses – six sheep and two deer – in the surrounding area near Barnoldby-le-Beck, and some large cat-like footprints, in the summer of 2011.
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Mr Elliott said: "I know my wildlife and the cat we saw walking across the middle of the field was big and had a very long tail – there was no way it was a domestic cat or a dog.
"I walk in that area quite regularly and started finding these carcasses, stripped to the bone while there was still wool and fur on the ground.
"One day, I found entrails in the middle of a field and the carcass in a ditch, as though it had been dragged somewhere sheltered – which is something a big cat might do."
The black cat that Mr Elliott described must be a different one to the sandy-coloured animal spotted by Mr Beach.
However, Mr Elliott, who runs a Facebook page for local otter watchers, said big cats living in Lincolnshire is more likely than some might think.
He added: "There is a chance that the carcasses could have been killed by a very large fox or a number of escaped dogs but it is unlikely that they killed so many animals in such a short time.
"People might think it is crazy but seeing a big cat is not like saying you saw a unicorn – many of them were kept as pets and released when it became illegal in the 70s and could have bred and survived, plus people still import them today."
Another member of the public, who did not want to be named, said he saw a big cat while driving near Welton-le-Wold, just outside of Louth around the same period as Mr Elliott, in August 2011.
He said: "I was driving along and this huge, sandy- -coloured cat, the size of an Alsatian jumped out in front of the car into the road – I almost hit it.
"There was a combine harvester working in the field nearby so I think it must have disturbed the cat.
"It was really big and quite muscular so you could see it was no ordinary household cat."
Have you seen a big cat in the area?
If so, visit www.thisisgrimsby.co.uk and leave a comment on the story or email email@example.com
To talk to Mr Elliott about local wildlife, search "otter watch" on Facebook and join the group.