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.

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