Police hunting 'large predator' as 10 sheep savaged after reports of 'big black cat-type animal'

COPS are hunting a "large predator" after ten sheep were savaged on a farm in Cheshire.

Mystery surrounds the slaughter of the sheep which happened after an animal looking like a big black cat was spotted in the area.

The attack on the farm in Macclesfield left six sheep dead and four badly injured, which were then put to sleep.

Cheshire Police's Rural Crime Team are now investigating the incident after the farmer claimed on December 30 that a big cat had been previously seen in the area.

The police force admitted a predator larger than a dog may be behind the recent slaughter.

The team wrote on Facebook:"The area has very little human interaction.

"At the moment the thought is very much on a larger predator and not as initially thought, a dog attack."

The post also adds: "On speaking to the farmer they confirmed a sighting some years ago of a very large black cat type animal not a million miles from this location."

MYSTERY ATTACKS

The Facebook post was later removed, but Cheshire Police did not confirm why.

A spokesman said: "Police received a report at around 3pm on December 30, 2020 that a number of sheep had been killed at a farm in Macclesfield.

"Officers initially spoke with the farmer over the phone and later visited the site.

"The farmer had found that six sheep had died and that another four had sustained serious injuries.

"The sheep were later put down due to their injuries.

"It is not known what caused the injuries to the sheep and enquiries are ongoing."

An earlier attack in Gawsworth, near Macclesfield, Cheshire, in which a sheep was mauled, was previously explained as a "dog attack".

The Rural Crime Team has also recently been making enquiries into an incident in Mobberley, Cheshire, in which two sheep suffered throat injuries.

Reported sightings of big cats in Cheshire are not uncommon.

In September 2011, one 999 caller reported seeing "a tiger" walking along the River Dee in Chester.

They described it as "three times as big as a cat, but fatter", stripy, with a black ringed tail and a black tip.

One alarmed resident was so concerned they alerted the police that a "wild cat" the "size of a wall" might be loose in Tarporley town centre.

'BIG CAT ON THE LOOSE'

They claimed walking past a field they heard a "low menacing growling" belonging to a large cat pacing behind it at night in July 2012.

And in September 2011, a "lynx" was blamed for slaughtering two cats, 10 sheep, a lamb and chickens in Poynton.

The caller reported the "wild cat" had left scratch marks in the ground and paw prints as big as his hands.

A farmer in Wales also lost ten sheep recently, which made locals scared that there may be a "big cat on the loose".

In recent months, there were four reported sightings of a big cat within a 30 mile radius of Gwrych Castle – where ITV hit show I'm a Celeb was filmed.

Earlier this week, a witness described “a large cat roughly the size of a Labrador” walking along a busy road near Talacre, Flintshire, Wales.

It follows recent sightings of a black “dog-sized” cat 20 miles away in Pontybodkin.

One was reported by terrified Toby Matthews who said he was confronted walking in deserted woods.

He recalled: “Maybe 50 or 60 feet away was an enormous black cat looking right at me.

"I took a photo then turned around and quickly walked back. I wanted to start running but was worried it’d give chase.

“I’m convinced that it was a puma. It was about two or three times the size of my little Labrador."

What appeared to be a large cat was captured on camera in the St Albans area in June 2017 by a shocked cabbie who insisted it was the mysterious beast.

Many sightings have been debunked as hoaxes or misidentifications, but there are a still a fair few of the 2,000 or so that are recorded every year that remain mysteries.

Big cat sightings in the UK in recent years include leopards, panthers, jaguars and jungle cats.

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