A man out for a Saturday afternoon walk says he watched a “large black cat” stalking sheep in a field between Penrhyn Bay and Glanwydden, near Llandudno.
Gethin Thomas spotted the animal at around 4PM on Saturday 3rd December then reported the sighting to us later that evening.
He told Puma Watch: “I’d walked up to Penryhn Bay looking for a shop selling cola niccy salts eliquid and was walking home through Glanwydden. After walking past The Queen’s Head towards Mochdre and Rhos, I spotted a large black puma or panther in the field behind the pub. The animal was stalking a group of sheep, crouching low in the grass as it crept closer and closer. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I’ve never seen a big cat in real life before, let alone one in a field of sheep.
“The animal was difficult to see as it was a cloudy day and at dusk, the light was fading quickly, but I could still make out its sleek and powerful form as it moved around the field. It was an impressive sight, to be sure, and was a strange and unexpected experience, but one that I’ll remember for some time.”
“I got my phone out and took a photo, at first just so I could zoom in and try to make sense of what my eyes were seeing. Then when I looked up from trying to zoom in on the second photo, the puma had completely disappeared from sight.”
It’s not the first time a big cat has been spotted in the area. Back in June, a motorist provided images of a black and white animal, telling us this was “a black and white cat sunbathing”. This was on Bryn Pydew hill, just a few fields away from Gethin’s sighting on Saturday.
Sara told Puma Watch: “We parked up on the lane in Pydew and spotted a very large cat sunbathing. We walked to the wall to get a closer look and it got up and slowly walked away with its tail curled.
“It looked like a huge house cat to us but it was definitely huge.”
A few months earlier, a black big cat was spotted twice in one day in nearby Colwyn Bay. One of these sightings was on Bryn Cadno, a hill overlooking Penrhyn Bay and only a short distance across the valley from both other sightings.
Last year, a holidaymaker filmed what they thought could be a young lynx crossing a lane near Bryn Pydew. And just a short distance away, even closer to the sighting reported on Saturday, some dog walkers found a carcass they believed had been left on the Little Orme by a big cat.
Also last year, just a few miles away in Conwy, a woman phoned the police after spotting a black panther on her garden fence. And way back in 2012, a member of the public phoned the police after spotting a black panther in Llandudno.
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.