Friday, 30 November 2018

NEWSLINK: forest dept’s solution to ward off leopards: Carry radio, play music

As panic continues to spread in several villages near Amangarh Tiger Reserve where leopard sightings have become frequent, the forest department has offered a strange solution to end man-animal conflict: Carry radio and play music to keep away big cats.

M Semmaran, divisional forest officer of Bijnor, told TOI, “The leopard is a shy animal and usually leaves when it hears sounds. We have asked villagers to carry a radio or mobile phone with them when they venture out. When they play music, it will drive away any leopard in the area and put an end to man-animal conflict.”

Read more... 

NEWSLINK: Tiger spill-over count alert

As many as a third of Maharashtra’s 204 tigers live outside protected areas, wildlife experts have revealed days after a hunter assisted by forest staff shot dead a tigress that had allegedly killed 13 people in the state since 2016.

“Inside the protected areas, the laws are clear. But because the spill-over population has gone up in the last 10 years, active management is required and robust policies need to be put in place. The same policies will not work,” Anish Andheria, president of the Wildlife Conservation Trust, told The Telegraph from Delhi.

Read more... 

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

NEWSLINK: BBC film crew step in to save the life of a poisoned lion cub

As a poisoned lion cub lies close to death, a team of vets rush to the spot in a dramatic effort to save it.

This is one of the heart-rending scenes that will grip millions of viewers who tune in to BBC1 tonight for the latest episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new series Dynasties.
But viewers will not be told that it was, in fact, members of the film crew who alerted vets.

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NEWSLINK: 3 lion cubs found dead near Gir, infighting suspected

The carcasses of three lion cubs were Monday found from the outskirts of a village in Amreli district near the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary, Forest department officials said.
Primary investigation has revealed that the three cubs, in the age group of 4 to 5 months, were killed by male lions during infighting between prides to establish dominance, said a statement from the department.

Read more... 

Monday, 26 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 16/11/18 - Coleford, Gloucestershire

Read the original story here.

This is a very interesting report both, in terms of its ideal isolated forest location and Mr Docherty’s good description. Coleford is a small market town west of the Forest of Dean, two miles east of the Welsh border and close to the Wye Valley. As well as its feral boar, this location is well known for anomalous big cat reports, with the forest appearing to be something of a migratory route the animals apparently use when traveling down through Wales into south-western England. Many sightings have been logged in this area of what seem to be large Felids, typically melanistic animals presumed to be black leopards (Panthera pardus) and occasionally faun-grey coloured animals believed to be pumas (Puma concolor), however, there are also a few other reports on file which seem to indicate that a much smaller, but no less exceptional mystery cat species also resides in this ancient woodland.

In 2012, a good friend of mine showed me a photograph he had taken on his mobile phone, in his own private area of woodland in Monmouth (Monmouth is only approximately six miles west of Coleford), of a fresh pugmark left in wet mud next to a small natural pool.

The animal had clearly visited the pool to drink and left an imprint of its front left paw behind in the wet mud. My friend, whom I wont name here, placed a fifty pence coin next to the track to indicate scale, and took a clear photograph of it. The single track was approximately 3 inches in length (8.85 cm), two and a half inches across (6.35 cm) and almost rounded in shape, but showing clear asymmetrical toes with no sign of claw marks. The track was clearly not from any known canid species such as dogs or foxes and seemed to be too large to belong to a domestic cat (Felis catus), and too small to have been made by any of the alleged big cats. At the time I guessed the spoor was probably made by a lynx sized cat. My informant, who is an accomplished outdoorsman and knows his own area of forest well, is very familiar with the local animals that frequent the woods, said he had never seen anything like this track before or since.

I believe Mr Docherty’s report is credible. He clearly witnessed something that wasn’t a fox and probably wasn’t any dog breed either (though it might have been a small deer) and considering the close proximity of the observation to the previous sightings, and the report made to myself back in 2012, seems to indicate that lynx-type cats are indeed living wild within the Forest of Dean to this day.

Frank Tunbridge is quite right in suggesting that in winter months the cats have to travel further afield in pursuit of prey, making the chances of spotting them much greater. As the smaller mammals which they usually feed upon become less in winter months and as the foliage becomes thinner, the cats' presence becomes more obvious. When the first snows arrive would be the most productive time to look for any trace evidence of these animals' presence.

Hopefully Mr Docherty will soon set up some motion sensitive cameras in this area and the mysterious creature[s] return.

Sunday, 25 November 2018

CARL WRITES: Scottish Big Cats Explained

For decades, people across Scotland have consistently reported observing large mysterious black creatures prowling rural areas and quite back lanes. Many critics dismiss such observations as exaggerated reports of domestic cats and/or misidentified dogs, while many eyewitnesses maintain that large exotic felids are indeed stalking Scotland.

As mentioned, most experts maintain it’s extremely unlikely that any breeding takes place in the UK, claiming the animals reported are very likely released (post Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976), or escaped from captivity.

“As of December 2016, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has received twenty seven reports of exotic cats which escaped from private collections since 1975”.

Felicity the Puma

The most famous, verified Scottish case was that of a puma (Puma concolor) named Felicity captured alive in a trap by farmer Ted Nobel at Cannich, near Drumnadrochit by Loch Ness, in 1980. When her capture was reported it sparked a media sensation. Felicity’s capture followed a string of reports which dated back as far as 1976, and local farmers (including Mr Nobel) had also reported livestock mutilations on various occasions until the capture.

Felicity’s case is often claimed to have been a staged event, with reports at the time suggesting she was a tame animal, and that she was previously someone’s pet.

This kind of negative statement altogether misses the point when we admit that the vast majority of British ‘big cat’ reports describe escapees and illegally released animals. A captured puma in the UK is still a captured puma regardless of its provenance, and guarantees that, at least for a while, large non native felids were certainly roaming wild in Britain!

Following her capture, Felicity was taken to The Highland Wildlife Park, where she became a popular tourist attraction until her death in 1985. Finally she was mounted and can still be viewed in the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery.

The Cupar Roe Deer Carcass

On the night of June 16th 2001, Ralph Barnett was driving home from Dundee to Cupar, and when rounding a sharp bend in the road, he switched his headlights to full beam, illuminating a big dark coloured creature in the beams. The mysterious animal quickly leapt away out of sight. As it did, Barnett realised that this cat had been feeding on the carcass of a Roe Deer (Capreolus capreolus) which the remains of which were still lying in the middle of the road.

Barnett called the local police who attended the scene “in significant numbers”.

The police decided not to retain the carcass and it was unfortunately dumped at the roadside. Barnett took some excellent photographs however.

The deer in the photographs seems to have been killed by asphyxiation – it showed bulging eyes, open mouth with protruding tongue, and clotted blood pooled on the side of the face, and the eyeballs were ruptured and still relatively moist. There was also a series of sub-parallel lacerations on the side of the neck that closely resembled a large cats claw marks.

The Beast of Banff

2007 saw the so called ‘Beast of Banff’. The creature was described as being “five feet long and three feet high”. It walked across the path of a man who was staying at the Banff Springs Hotel over the holiday period as he was out walking near the hotel on Hogmanay, according to the Banffshire Journal.

The Argyll Panther

PC Chris Swallows, an off-duty Ministry of Defence police dog handler took a video after witnessing ‘a panther-sized big cat’ on a nearby railway line in Helensburgh, Argyll in 2009. This video (which can be easily found on YouTube) shows what is probably a domestic cat filmed on a railway line at a low, deceptive camera angle.

2001, 2008, 2013, and 2015 saw the so called ‘Edzell Panther’. This large cat-like animal was said to be roaming Angus, reported near the A90 near Edzell and Fettercairn Road.

And finally...

More sightings were reported in August (2018) of what was claimed to be a large black cat which has been observed stalking in and around Bonnyrigg in Midlothian in recent years – see CFZ Mystery Cats Study Group 30/08/18.

There clearly has been (and probably still remains) large exotic felids (pumas and leopards?) living wild in the more remote areas of Scotland. The evidence for such creatures is relatively good and I expect there to be further verified cases documented in future.

Tuesday, 20 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 20/10/18 - Sinclairston, Ayrshire

Read the original story here.

A local teenager has created a ‘flap’ in Scotland with the creation of his very own ‘big cat’. Robbie Brown created the big cat shaped sculpture with a laser cutter before posting photographs onto social media, fooling many locals residents into believing a large black cat was on the loose.

Mr. Brown, 18, received hundreds of shares with local residents believing the sculpture to be the real thing. One even contacted police to report the sighting.

“I just did it for a laugh... Everyone was talking about the other sightings so I spent ten minutes crafting one out of metal”. Claims Mr. Brown.

“It’s got a crazy reaction on Facebook, and some people thought it was real... Others realised it was fake because the tail was in the same position in every photograph”.

Police initially feared a ‘black panther’ was stalking the wilds near Drongan, Ayrshire after the photographs emerged.

Ian Mitchel 56, who runs an alpacas business at Hannahston Farm, initially feared for the safety of his South American animals which are worth up to £12,000 each.

Even considering the obviously static nature of the sculpture, many local eyewitnesses believed what they were seeing was a genuine ‘big cat’. This story proves that many observers see whatever they want to see, even if what’s being observed is nothing more than a rigid, laser cut model painted black, and typically seen in a single unchanging position.

CARL WRITES: 22/10/18 - Lochnagar, Aberdeenshire

Read the original story here.

Two videos have appeared that seem to show genuine wildcat kittens. Mr. Usher from Edinburgh told BBC Scotland:

“I was going across a boulder field, being quite careful with where I was going because there lots of drops down. Out of the corner of my eye I suddenly saw something move and instinctively thought it was a tail.”

“It was the wee one first that I saw and that gave me time to put down my bag, take out my camera, start filming it and zooming in. It didn’t want to move so it was great”.

“I changed course, going off further to the left to keep well out of their way. I looked round after another ten minutes or so and found that they were still watching me”.

“At the time I thought there were two, but then going back over the footage in slow motion I found a third one just poking out, and there may have been more as well”.

“At the time it didn’t really sink in, and by the time I got home I thought: Wow, that’s actually something special”.

The British race of the European wildcat (Felis silvestris grampia) was at one time found all over the British Isles, but according to popular belief, were exterminated over much of their range during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and are today totally confined to Scotland.

Wildcats tend to be larger and heavier than domestic cats, although the size range is considerable. The head has distinctly tabby markings, the nose is flesh coloured and the animals have a prominent white throat. The dorsal colouration of the coat is a yellowish-brown/grey, much darker than the ventral side, which is pale.

There is a broad dark-coloured dorsal line made up of longitudinal stripes from which irregular stripes which run onto the stomach.

The tail has several dark coloured, encircling bands, of which only the final two or three count as complete ‘rings’. The tip of the tail is black.

The kittens are usually more distinctively marked than the adults and that for the first few months of their lives their tails are tapered to a point like in domestic cats (Felis catus).

A tabby, striped coat and a bushy tail, with distinctive bands are also found in domestic or feral cats and are therefore not definite wildcat characteristics. Both species often display the traditional ‘M shaped’ markings on the forehead.

Hybridisation with domestic cats has clearly taken place over much of the wildcats geographic range and today it is difficult, if not impossible, to say just which populations have been affected by intragressive cross breeding.

The purity of this species is typically accessed using a 21 point scoring system examining  F. s. grampia physical characteristics.

The most visible kitten on each of the videos looks very promising, with strong nape stripes and a thickened (non tapered) tail.

It has been estimated that there are only between one hundred and three hundred Scottish wildcats alive today, and we are unsure as to whether the English specimens, which undoubtedly existed into historical times, were members of the same (Scottish) sub-species.  

Sunday, 18 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: Security guard spots big cat while out walking with his domesticated feral cat

While patrolling a site at work with his domesticated feral cat, a man who more likely expected to come across a sounder of wild boar in fact came face to face with a big cat instead.

The big cat sighting happened on November 15 at around midnight near Coleford in the Forest of Dean.

Security guard Clarke Dockerty, 32, has been on the site for a couple of weeks. The previous night he heard a huge commotion on the outskirts of the site and was taken aback when he saw around 10 boar making their way through the wood.


NEWSLINK: 1 mountain lion remains missing following Woolsey fire

All but one of the mountain lions being tracked by the National Park Service in the Santa Monica Mountains have been accounted for in the wake of the Woolsey Fire, as have all four bobcats the agency monitors, officials said.

The only mountain lion still missing as of Friday is dubbed P-74, a young male who was born last year and is the newest lion added to the National Park Service study of big cats in the mountains. Another lion dubbed P-42 was located Friday morning, along with the last of four bobcats in the mountain area.


Wednesday, 14 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: Big cat 'as big as a Labrador' spotted on Gloucestershire canal path

A man from Brimscombe was left shocked after coming across a 'big cat' on a towpath when he was on his way back from collecting a memory foam mattress on his push bike.

He took the towpath route home and could not quite believe what he saw stood right in front of him.

At first the man thought it was a dog sniffing about in the grass to the left of the path but then it dawned on him.

Read more... 

PHOTO: Lion Sneaks Into Farmer's Home, Relaxes On Heap Of Groundnuts

A farmer in Patla village in Gujarat's Amreli district was greeted with a strange, albeit apprehensive, sight of a lion relaxing on a heap of groundnuts stored in a room in his house.

A video of the lion sprawled on the groundnut heap went viral on social media.
The incident took place in Tulsishyam range of the Gir (east) division Sunday night.
Forest officials said Patla village is located on the edge of the Gir forest, the only abode of the Asiatic lions.

Read more... 

CARL WRITES: 11/11/18 - Brimscombe, Gloucestershire

Read the original story here.

"I don’t think this is a particularly credible sighting simply because of the constant inconsistencies related during Mr Guillaume Lyons’ interview. One minute the animal was as tall as a Doberman with the build of a Labrador and definitely not a dog, the next he could not observe any clearly observable features.

The accompanying article quotes him as saying it was slim like a Dalmatian.

Next he identifies what he has observed as a lynx, I presume because he does not remember seeing the creatures tail. It seems to me we are talking about a vague silhouette of a dark animal observed briefly under inadequate conditions! If so I think its probably unwise to jump to premature conclusions, there is literally nothing in this report that indicates anything other than it being a large dog or a fox – maybe even a small deer such as a muntjac, which of course have short, almost indistinct tails.

I don’t believe Mr Lyons is being dishonest, I simply feel he probably mistook some other animal for a big cat as it was getting dark along the towpath when he briefly observed the creature and it surprised him. Additionally he is quoted in the GloucestershireLive article describing the trees ahead of him as dark, looking like “silhouettes”.

Most likely a large fox Vulpes vulpes, in fact the shape and the behaviour reported by Mr Lyons are very consistent with a fox."

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

CARL WRITES: 5/11/18 - Staveley, Cumbria

Read the original story here.

There is very likely at least one large felid roaming the south Lakeland area and I have sneaking suspicion where it might have escaped from. South Lakes Safari Zoo is probably the most controversial zoo in Britain. Why, one might ask, is this zoo considered to be so controversial when there are plenty of other unscrupulous establishments throughout the country? Well, its probably down to the unsettling reports that have been appearing since June 2016. Since the zoo’s licence came up for renewal two years ago, government inspectors revealed that 486 animals had died between December 2013 and September 2016, many of them due to living in cruel conditions. South Lakes Safari Zoo had already been in the headlines on 24th May 2013, after Sarah McClay, a 23 year old zookeeper was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger. The following year the zoo was fined £255,500, not including fees, by the courts for health and safety breaches that lead to her untimely and horrific death.

“In the first six months of 2016, 13 animals died of trauma, three starved, a lemur drowned, and a jaguar chewed off its paw”.

Among the animal deaths were two snow leopard cubs, Miska and Natasja, found partly eaten by other leopards in their enclosure; a rhinoceros crushed to death by its partner; a squirrel monkey died after getting stuck behind a radiator and left there; an African spurred tortoise that had been electrocuted when it became entangled in electric fencing. Poison used to kill rats had also lead to the deaths of at least two unspecified animals and lemurs and many birds had been crushed to death by the zoo’s miniature train. Five Inca terns had died from exposure, an alpaca from hypothermia, a bird had been euthanised after its beak had been broken. Thirteen other animals had died from trauma, and three from starvation. A beautiful jaguar named Saka had chewed off its own paw after damaging it on broken glass and exposed nails.

That same month a report was published, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society visited the zoo and published photographs of an emaciated kangaroo, and penguins suffering in the 29C summer heat in an empty pool.

In August, 2006, an escaped South American goat was recaptured using a tranquiliser dart after wandering into a local garden. The following month, a government inspector said escapes were “a matter for concern” and recommended procedures to prevent animals using an overhead walkway as a means of escape. In 2010, a capuchin monkey escaped for five days and was eventually recaptured in a church; two months later the council renewed the zoo’s licence!

Management of the zoo has now been handed over to a newly formed group, the Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, who has been running the establishment since January, 2017, and as of 9, May, 2017, Barrow Council voted to grant the company a four year licence, after inspectors gave positive reports of how the zoo appears to have turned things around.

The Zoo’s previous owner during it’s troubles, David Gill, a self-styled wrangler; the type often seen working with tigers and crocodiles on television, or hunting them down on safari, has been accused of animal cruelty before, when in 1997, an extremely rare three tonne white rhino escaped from its enclosure into a car park, fell into a ditch and was unfortunately shot dead. Gill was fined £10,000 by Kendal magistrates court for endangering the public and failing to have adequate barriers.

I would not be at all surprised if this once terribly run zoo might have failed to report an escapee at some point, especially of a potentially dangerous nocturnal animal that would, over time, likely wander far away from the vicinity of the zoo. If a rhinoceros can escape, I’m sure a light-footed leopard could too – the only difference being a leopard would likely not be seen again. I wouldn’t blame the animal in the slightest for wanting to escape this once awful place! Like many zoos, this institution also had a proven record for not being honest when questioned.

When zookeeper, Sarah McClay was mauled to death, her kin were informed that she had died because she had failed to follow protocol and for some unknown reason had walked into the enclosure. Gill told press Sarah had made an unwise and baffling mistake. It took just over three years for the truth to come out at inquest. Sarah was in a staff corridor next to the tiger enclosure when the tiger attacked and mauled her – a bolt on one of the gates was proven to be defective!

However, the report in The Westmorland Gazette does not describe a big cat. In fact it does not really describe anything at all! It is assuming that Vicky Parkinson knows a big cat when she sees one, which unfortunately for our purposes is not sufficient evidence. It would be useful if we could at least ascertain what subject Mrs Parkinson teaches! I mean, if she teaches biology or anatomy we could take her report at face value.

Even the evidence of the two deer running from an unseen predator does not prove there was a large cat in the area, as on many occasions I have personally witnessed deer running thorough woodland, disappearing, and then a few seconds later an average sized domestic dog will come prowling through the same area - obviously in pursuit of the deer.

With the lack of any real details it’s difficult to say whether Mrs Parkinson witnessed a big cat or not!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

SIGHTING, UK: People in Midlothian claim a big cat is stalking the Pentlands

Loch Ness has Nessie, the Himalayas has the Yeti, the United States has Bigfoot, and now Edinburgh has the "Pentlands Puma".

On November 4, a man posted in a Penicuik-based Facebook group to say he'd spotted a big cat that appeared to be around four times the size of a domestic cat. It was pitch black in colour, and he said he thought it could have been a puma.

Unsurprisingly, he got roasted in the comments, with other members of the group suggesting he'd had one too many, that he was joking, or that he'd just seen a perfectly normal cat.

Read more... 

CARL WRITES: 23/10/18 - Stamford, Lincolnshire

Read the original story here.

"It's a great shame that the photograph of the alleged ‘black panther’ prowling a field near Stamford, and that of the close up of the pawprint taken the following day, both photographed by father of four Steve Kelly, are unfortunately ill-defined and thus limited in their value as evidence. Nevertheless the animal in the vague photograph does appear to be a felid but seems to be, going simply by the basic anatomy observable in the photo, of the species Felis catus – the domestic cat.

Mr Kelly said “it moved like a cat and was very graceful. It was Jet Black... I was just taken aback when I saw this creature. It was compelling to watch”.

The cat in the photograph tagged Jet Black Panther (4982922) is without doubt very dark in colour, most likely melanistic, but unfortunately the photo isn’t clear enough to accurately judge the animals dimensions in relation to nearby objects, and I also do not wish to call Mr Kelly’s observational prowess into question, as being an airplane pilot would appear to be more than adequate.

I have to agree with Mr Kelly to a certain extent in that the cat in this image is certainly gracile in appearance, and is therefore most likely, in my opinion, to be nothing more than a relatively large domestic cat. At 200m it would be difficult for anyone to judge it’s size accurately. I think its safe to assume however that this was quite a large cat.

“As it saw us, it started to move very gracefully towards the corner of the field. There was no way I could have chased it and I was just scrambling to get my phone out of my pocket before it disappeared”.

It should also be noted that Mr Kelly had prior interest and belief in the British big cat phenomenon, after his wife, Emily, observed a similar creature when previously living in Ketton, Rutland. Mrs Kelly actually reported her sighting to the local police. This preconceived belief might have had an effect on Mr Kelly’s observation and led him to conclude that the animal he briefly witnessed was larger than it really was. As human beings we tend to see what we want to see, especially when we observe something imperfectly at a great distance!

And then the discovery the following day of the pawprint might have seemed to confirm this opinion!

Unfortunately for us the photograph of the pawprint is also indistinct, although it does seem to indicate a certain symmetry which might suggest it was made by a canid, either a fox, or perhaps more likely a medium sized dog.

He said “this sort of thing really interests me, and I’m thinking of setting up a motion sensor infra-red camera in that area too, so who knows, if I could get a close up photo of whatever it really is, it could solve this completely”.

Mr Kelly even contacted BBC wildlife expert Chris Packham and also contacted a university zoologist to find out more which suggests he is being truthful and is not trying to deceive anybody.

“There is plenty of good food supply available here, with deer, rabbits, sheep, and even domestic cats, which have been reported missing”.

Mr Kelly stated this animal was “much bigger” than his own pets. It would therefore be a very good idea for him to set up motion camera equipment in this area as he suggested. It would also be productive to photograph an object of comparable size in precisely the same location as the cat in the photograph and at the same distance; and to continue to look out for fresh (and therefore hopefully clearer) pawprints. A hair sample can also prove invaluable.

Unfortunately, I think this is a black domestic cat, maybe quite a large one, and the pawprint is probably that of a canid, possibly a dog."

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

NEWSLINK: Leopard population in state up 30% in decade

Between 2006 and 2017, the leopard population in the state increased by nearly 30% — up from 1,070 in 2006 to 1,395 in 2017. And the 2017 census showed a 20% rise in the leopard count from the previous census conducted in 2011.

There were 1,170 leopards in the state according to a 2011 census. Understandably, operations to extricate leopards from human habitations have increased by 35%.

Read more... 

SIGHTING, UK: ‘Panther-like cat’ sighted in Lakes wood

Vicky Parkinson, from Otley, was out walking her dog on Tuesday morning when a large, non-native black cat crossed her path.

"I couldn't believe my eyes," she exclaimed. "At first I thought it was a big dog. But then I did a double take and I was left in utter disbelief at what I had just seen!"
Mrs Parkinson was on holiday staying at the Windermere Campsite on Ashes Lane, between Kendal and Staveley, when she spotted the large creature in the woodlands near Ratherheath Tarn.

Read more... 

Thursday, 1 November 2018

SIGHTING? UK: ‘large black cat’ is no panther

Police who spent yesterday scouring fields near the B730 in Ayrshire for a mystery “large black cat” have ruled out an earlier theory that the beast is a black panther.

The original alert made newspaper headlines across Britain, and the subsequent downgrading of the animal from big cat predator to (possibly) domestic cat has been vigorously lampooned in press and social media.

Police consulted an expert on big cats, who after studying pictures of the animal reckoned it was unlikely to be a panther - black or otherwise.

Read more... 

SIGHTING? UK: Ballymoney forest warning as 'large black suspicious looking animal' spotted

Police have urged the public not to approach a large black beast that has been spotted in a wood in Ballymoney.

The animal is said to have been seen in the Conagher Rd area of Garry Forest.

A PSNI spokesperson said: "Earlier today we received a report of what has been described as a large black suspicious looking animal in the Garry Forest area, Conagher Road area of Ballymoney.

"It goes without saying that if you see this animal in the area, please do not approach it."