Published On: Sun, Apr 16th, 2017

BEAST OF SOMERSET? Mum and daughter stunned as 'huge cat' prowls in Quantock Hills

Big Cat in Quantock HillsSWNS

This big cat was spotted prowling through the grass in Quantock Hills in Somerset

The mum and her teenage daughter snapped the astonishing images while they were enjoying the sunshine at Crowcombe Park Gate in the Quantock Hills in Somerset.

The 32-year-old, who was with her 14-year-old daughter said the sun was glinting off the big black animal’s fur as it skulked through the long grass metres in front of them.

She pointed her camera at the massive feline and zoomed in to get a better view, taking a photo to give herself a closer look.

I didn’t see it properly until I got home and looking at the pic bigger

By the time she looked up from her phone the creature – with a distinctive wide head, long tail and leg muscles – had disappeared from view.

The mum couldn’t believe it when she inspected the photos at home and realised she had photographed a panther or puma-like creature on Saturday afternoon.

The mum from Somerset, who wants to be anonymous, said: “We went for a drive and parked up in a quiet spot for a walk.

“At first I couldn’t see a lot.

“I could see something big and shining in the sun.

“It looked like it was hiding.

“The sun was shining off it in the distance but the sun was in my eyes so I tried to look though camera on my phone.

“I zoomed right in but it made screen dark so couldn’t see anything, so I just clicked hoping to get a pic.

“I didn’t see it properly until I got home and looking at the pic bigger.

Big cat in the grassSWNS

The mum who snapped the picture believes the creature may be a panther

“I think it’s a big cat – a panther type thing.

“All my family did when I showed them the photo. They couldn’t believe it. It certainly looks like one.”

She sent the photo to the BeastWatch UK group – a non-profit online organisation which collates reports of exotic wildlife.

Members speculated it could be two dogs, a bear, a boar or a horse – but many agreed it looked like a big cat, such as a panther or jaguar.

Big cat in SomersetSWNS

Close up of big catSWNS

They only saw the big cat once they zoomed in

One person said: “Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually thought it could be a large feline.

“It’s very jaguar panther shape, nice and chunky. Could do well in our climate too.”

Another added: “I’m 99.9% that it’s feline. Everything about it is like a melanistic jaguar.”

But another wrote: “Possibly just two dogs.

“As Arthur Conan Doyle once said ‘Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth’.

“I’m not saying it isn’t one animal, but I will always look at the most likely first.”

The Quantock Hills is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and has acres of heathland, woodlands, parklands and agricultural land.

Last year Avon and Somerset Police revealed they had been alerted to 13 sightings of big cats in Somerset, including panthers, lions and pumas.

The ‘Beast of Wellington’ – a black big cat – was last year blamed for a spike in domestic cat deaths in nearby Wellington, Somerset.

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