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SIGHTING: Massive black panther caught on camera near St Helens

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A dog walker has caught a massive black cat on camera in Merseyside, said to be 4 or 5 times the size of a house cat.

Chris Hill encountered the creature near Pewfall on the outskirts of St Helens at around 5:45 PM on Saturday 22nd October and reported the sighting via our online form later that evening.

She told Puma Watch: “I was walking my dog down a back lane opposite a field, there is lots of countryside and farms around this area.

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“I noticed a large black cat-like creature facing off with a house cat in the field.

“The large cat looked to be 4 to 5 times bigger than the house cat. It was moving just like a cat would. It was almost like the large cat was stalking the house cat.

“I managed to take a couple of pictures but it’s not very clear due to the distance, but you can see just how much bigger the black cat is and it was much further away than the house cat.

“After taking the photos, I began to feel scared for myself and my dog and just walked off as fast as I could.

“Now I’m worried about walking my dog in this area if this creature is still lurking around. I’ve read reports that others within a few miles of here have spotted the same thing.”

Chris’s sighting has been added to our interactive map

Though we usually focus on North Wales, we often receive reports from further afield, usually when people ask Google how to report sightings. We welcome these reports and have previously shared encounters from Scotland, Cornwall, Manchester and Leamington Spa. We also pass them on to relevant local groups where they exist.

We’ve previously shared two encounters from Warrington, only a few miles away from St Helens. These included a black panther walking along the Manchester Ship Canal back in February 2021 and a black puma hunting sheep near the M6 Lymm Interchange last November.

And just weeks ago, footage emerged from a doorbell camera of a panther prowling Warrington’s residential streets overnight.

Click to view full size
Click to view full size

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.

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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.

Warrington Panther
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