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Big cat sighting reopens debate - 16/04/01

THE DEBATE over whether there is a 'beast of Ryedale' has been reopened, after a big cat was reportedly seen near West Lutton.

A witness claimed to have seen a large, panther-like animal in the early hours of the morning, at the beginning of last week.

It is the latest in a long line of reported big cat sightings in North Yorkshire.

East Yorkshire is also rumoured to have a 'beast', with sightings of a big cat reported in the Pocklington and Market Weighton areas.

Big cat expert Eddie Bell has studied the existence of the beasts in North Yorkshire and the rest of the UK for almost twenty years.

And he says he is in "no doubt whatsoever" that a big cat is on the loose in Ryedale.

He said: "The 1976 Dangerous Animal Act saw a lot of these animals o mainly pumas o released into the wild.

"All of these will almost certainly be dead, but breeding has taken place so we are now seeing British-born pumas roaming our countryside.

"I have no doubt whatsoever about that."

Eddie said the Ryedale countryside is perfect for pumas, as it is very similar to their North American natural habitat.

"Ryedale is perfect for them. There is a mix of moorland and woodland and there are also a lot of disused railway lines for them to walk along.

"They like those because they are isolated, have plenty of cover and there are usually plenty of rabbits near to them."

Updated: 12:46 Tuesday, March 08, 2005

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