Two members of the public have reported spotting a black big cat in Denbigh within the space of a few days – and one of them managed to catch the animal on camera.
At around 10:30 AM on Thursday 12th January, Graham Evans was walking in fields behind Denbigh Castle when he noticed the creature drinking from a cattle water trough. It then crouched very low in the grass as he managed to take a photo before running off into the distance.
Then, at around 11:30 PM on Monday 16th January, a resident of the Brookhouse area of Denbigh startled a big cat in the field behind his home. Having inadvertently come within 10 metres of the animal, he said it “scared the life” out of him.
Graham told Puma Watch: “I was alone on a walk in the fields behind Denbigh Castle when I first spotted the animal it was some distance away and appeared to be drinking from a cattle water trough.
“It then jumped down walked several feet from the trough then crouched down very low in the grass, it must have spotted me, when I am out and about I always carry a small compact camera, I just managed to take a photo before it sprang up then jumped over a fence into the next field then ran away into the distance very fast then disappeared”
Brenden told Puma Watch: “Walked behind my house to dispose of some wastewater near the field behind my property and I spooked something big and black that bolted away from me causing the undergrowth to rustle.
“The noise made me look in the direction of the noise and what I seen was far too big to be a domestic cat and it had reared onto its back legs to pivot and run.
“I’m a former gamekeeper and know it wasn’t a fox or badger, it was far too big, lept away rather than running.
“Scared the life out of me, I was around 10m from it.”
They’re not the first encounters reported in the Denbigh area, although they are the first we’ve managed to publish. Unfortunately, due to the volume of sightings we receive, we don’t get to publish every single one as they arrive – though we appreciate all reports and add them to our database for future reference.
In August 2022, Dawn found a large pawprint only a couple of miles from Denbigh at Groes. She sent us the photo below, which we’re now sharing for the first time.
According to The Daily Post, police were called in when “a big cat the size of a sheepdog” was spotted in Denbigh way back in March 2011. The animal was described as “silver & black in colour and had a black stripe wider than a domestic cat.” It came just a week after police were called to a barn in Ruthin where a dead lamb stored in a barn had been suspiciously stripped to the carcass overnight.
In more recent years, we’ve shared multiple reports of big cat sightings from around the Vale of Clwyd in all directions from Denbigh with many within the distance a big cat could travel in one day.
In February 2021, a “very large black cat” left a dog walker “scared” and “shocked” at Llansannan, an isolated village at the foot of Denbigh Moors. And in April of that same year, a ‘grey puma’ was spotted twice at Cyffyliog, near Denbigh Moors and Clocaenog Forest.
And back in August 2019, a “huge” cat chased a woman and her boyfriend away from Moel Famau in the dead of night.
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.
In 2021, 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.