COULD this beast be the latest sighting of a big cat prowling the railway lines of West Lancashire?
Dave Stanhope, from Burscough, certainly thinks so – after taking these pictures of what he claims was a “large black cat, up to 3ft long” stalking the tracks in the village.
Dave, 44, said he was out walking his dog the weekend before last when he saw what he thought was a big Labrador as he walked over the railway bridge on Square Lane.
He said: “I was crossing the bridge and saw this large animal on the tracks below. It looked like a dog but was completely still.
“Then It looked at me and I knew it was some kind of cat. I watched it for some time, it seemed to be hunting something in the hedge. I did think ‘am I making a mountain out of a mole hill’? But it was nearly as big as my own dog, a cross between a lab and bull terrier, about 3ft long. When you compare it to the railway sleepers you realise the size it was, I have never seen anything like it. I carried on watching it for a while and eventually it walked off down track heading away from Ormskirk towards Preston.”
Cheryl Hudson, of the Lancashire branch of Big Cats in Britain, said there had been numerous sightings of big cats in West Lancs over the years. Having seen a selection of Dave’s photos, Cheryl isn’t convinced this particular beast is anything more than a large domestic or feral moggie.
But she said: “There have been quite a few sightings in Burscough but not for a while. “Big cats like canals and railway tracks, its like a wildlife corridor for them.”
Cheryl said that some people had released big cats in Britain after the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act.
But while there have been many sightings there has yet to be a body discovered that would prove such beasts are out roaming in West Lancashire.