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Couple 'saw big cat' near Carlisle's Asda superstore

An invitation has been issued to help prove – or dispel – one of the UK’s greatest myths - just as a big cat has been sighted on the edge of Carlisle.

A national Big Cat Watch will take place on August 24 to 26, as people from all corners of Great Britain keep a look out for the mysterious wild creatures.

On Saturday, Raymond Sant and his wife Vera were driving from their home in Thursby towards Asda, Carlisle.

As they drove along the new bypass, close to a wooded area beside the supermarket, Mr Sant caught a glimpse of a mysterious large black cat.

“It looked to me very much like a panther,” he insisted. “It was the size of a labrador, but wasn’t a labrador, and had a much longer tail.”

While Mr Sant did not see its head, he is adamant he knows what he saw.

He said: “I’m a perfectly rational person. I don’t believe in UFOs and spaceman and that sort of thing.

“I was sceptical before, but I know what I saw; I’m not someone to lie or make things up.”

The sighting comes hot on the heels of a similar report at Hoddom, near Annan, recently.

The myth of the roaming big cats can divide any group of people, with sightings of black pumas, leopards, jaguars and lynx being reported every week.

While the south west of England and Scotland are the most notorious for the unexplained creatures, there have been other sightings in Cumbria.

Two years ago Mario Pellegrino contacted the News & Star, after he saw a “large cat” near to Castletown House, in Rockcliffe.

His encounter spurred on mum-of-four Sharon Larkin, who had been researching the elusive creature for some time.

Sharon, from Broughton Cross, is determined to get evidence of the wild cat to prove its existence once and for all.

She has now registered to “spot” the big cat in the Rockcliffe area, and is hoping other Cumbrians will sign up to monitor their areas.

“I would love more people to get involved,” Sharon added.

The mysterious cat-like creature has been reported for decades, sparking dozens of nicknames ranging from the Thundridge Thundercat to the Morpeth Moggie.

However, the most common title involves the fear-instilling “Beast of ...” – Essex, Bolton, Cricklewood, Trowbridge and Knaresborough have all got their own ‘beast’.

Not to be left out, over the years the Beast of Shap has reared its head on a number of occasions.

So far this year there have been 227 big cat sightings or reports of big cat related activity across the UK.

Mark Fraser, from Big Cats in Britain, which is organising the watch event, said: “We are always searching for that elusive hard evidence, and it is hoped the weekend will help provide something positive and substantial.

“Our aim is for people to choose an area local to them with a history of big cat sightings observing the area for signs of big cat activity.

“We are hoping to get a clear picture of one of these mystery felines, definite paw prints, and any definite signs of activity that can be put down to a big cat without hesitation.”

To register and take part in the event, visit and complete the registration form.

Have your say

I notice most of the reports are around asda/rockcliffe/harker/blackford.

For those that dont know, Brooke Milestone used to live on the A7 and had a population of RED DEER penned in. When he died, somebody cut the fences down & released the deer.

For those that havent seen Deer in the dark, using artificial light - car headlights, infrared, spotlamps etc....

then they have 2 great big shiny eyes that reflect back. these are often confused with eyes of a cat.

If you spot a ROE DEER then, you can be forgiven, if you think its a CAT. but a RED DEER, well your a fool if you think it could be even the biggest of cats.... (unless it is laying down)

so there you go, mystery solved, everyone is seeing DEER, not CATS.

Posted by Ry on 3 March 2013 at 19:46

Robert, I've seen deer across the river from there, but these are roe deer, not the much larger red deer. Roe deer, having few natural predators, (other than man) have become more & more common over the last 15/20 years & are spreading out to take advantage of the more urban areas around the outskirts of towns & cities. As Roe are secretive by nature & spend their daytime laying up in woodland or long grass, venturing forth to feed at dusk, they can exist in an area more of less un-noticed except for their distinctive tracks.

Roe deer are about the size of a large dog or as their Latin name (Capreolus capreolus) suggests, about the size of a goat. Red deer are much larger & in Cumbria confined to Grizedale forest & areas in the Lake District, so it's extremely unlikely the deer witnessed at Rickerby were red.

Posted by Mosstrooper on 20 August 2012 at 19:18

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