A member of the public has reported finding pawprints in the same woods where big cats have previously been caught on video.
Chris Hughes was cutting up wood yesterday in Coed Talon near Pontybodkin, Flintshire, when he noticed the pawprints shown above and took a photo with a matchbox for size comparison.
In November 2020, a big cat was caught on video at the location and became known as the ‘Puma of Pontybodkin‘ by the media. Two more sightings were reported in the Pontybodkin and Pontblyddyn areas the following month and a Conservative politician demanded the Welsh Government began an investigation.
Then just weeks later on 1st March 2021, another member of the public caught a similar animal on video again at the same location.
The area has a long-term history of big cat sightings. Back in 2013, a resident of nearby Treuddyn spotted an all-black big cat moving through a paddock at 2:35 am, while in 2006, Tiger King star Carole Baskin wrote on Big Cat Rescue’s website: “Earlier this year there were confirmed reports and prints of a puma near Treuddyn and Leeswood near Mold.”
Big cats such as pumas are solitary with a hunting range of dozens of miles. They’re mostly spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian hills but reports of sightings in urban locations some distance from these areas are becoming more frequent.
As seen with Llandundo’s now-famous goats, who have taken to roaming the town’s deserted streets during the coronavirus lockdowns, it’s likely that the reduced levels of human activity during the pandemic encouraged big cats to roam further from the hills into more populated areas. Despite human activity returning to near pre-pandemic levels, it seems many big cats are now happy to stay in their new territory.
When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs. Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since.
Last year, the Welsh Government responded to the recent spate of sightings and confirmed the steps they take to investigate any reported to them, including taking casts of paw prints.
A visitor to a Snowdonia animal rescue centre back in 1994 recently claimed he was introduced to four puma kittens. He said: “I strongly suspect that these were released into the wild as they had no paperwork and no money to feed or house them.
“They certainly weren’t there six months later.”
Any further sightings can be reported to us via this form.