BIG cat sightings are reported across the country every year, and Herefordshire is no exception with attacks on farm animals and sightings in dark lanes reported over the years.
A wave of ‘black beast’ sightings were reported during the late 1990s, with famous Herefordshire cases including the Woolhope Wildcat in 1994 and numerous reports of the Herefordshire Phantom Feline, also known as ‘Big Puss’, from 1996 to 2000.
Many of the sightings were in the north Herefordshire and Woolhope areas, with strong evidence pointing to the presence of a big cat in the Pembridge area in the 1990s, but other sightings were reported in the south of the county.
We have put together a map of the Herefordshire big cat sightings reported to the Hereford Times from our archives.
Click the pins on the map to see more information about each sighting.
Sightings dropped off during the 2000s, with significantly fewer reports of big cats in the county.
But they did not stop completely, with Hereford man Steve Hall reporting a sighting of a feline-like creature, about two-and-a-half feet tall, stalking its way over farmland near Newtown Crossroads in December 2009.
The then-30-year-old, who filmed the encounter, said: “The wind was blowing in my direction so it couldn’t sense me.
“It was just walking across the hedge and then it saw us and sat in the hedge a bit watching.”
Steve and his friend Dave Went were walking their dogs on the other side of the field when they saw it but managed to zoom in and get a shaky shot of the animal before it was made off.
Dave said: “I thought I saw one a few years ago but I wasn’t too sure as it was dark, but this footage proves they are local. It was far too big to be a domestic cat.”
Nothing has ever been proven but Steve, who was out filming his own pets for a website he runs when it happened, is adamant this is the real thing.
“I go out all the time in the countryside and know the difference between a cat and a dog,” he said. “This was definitely a big cat.”
Another hint to their presence came the next week, when Pauline Mannion said four of her sheep had been killed in suspicious circumstances in the same area.
“Perhaps there are big cats out there. I really don’t know,” said Mrs. Mannion.
“If somebody has seen one I would have no reason to disbelieve them.”
More injuries were reported in July 2010, when Rachel Baugh’s horse was left with a deep cut and scratches she was told by an expert could have been caused by a big cat.
Trail marks were also spotted near the stables in Upton Bishop.
“The only thing I could say was that it looked like a big cat attack as I couldn’t think what else it could have been,” she said.
And in July 2014, a mysterious big cat was spotted in Lugwardine by Debbie Smithers, who was traveling from Whitecross to St Michael’s Hospice at around 8.55pm when she came across what she described as a “large, dark cat” on Lumber Lane, near Lugwardine.
“It was about three feet high, standing on the opposite carriageway of the road, facing Hereford,” said Mrs Smithers, a nurse at the hospice.
“Within seconds its tail went up and it sort of gracefully jumped across into the verge and into the hedge.”
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