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Beast of Badcox (2006)

The following article entitled ‘Hunt is on for the Beast of Badcox’ appeared in the Frome & Somerset Standard on 7th September 2006 and concerns a big cat that was sighted in Victoria Park, Frome.

The hunt is on for a mysterious large black cat that was spotted roaming at night in Frome Victoria Park.

The Badcox Beast, as it has been dubbed, was seen on two consecutive evenings by two park patrol staff.

It was first glimpsed at about 9pm on Thursday and again on Friday night at about the same time.

The animal is described as being three to four foot tall, six foot in length, with a dark black coat and a long tail.

Big cat experts say the eye-witness accounts suggested a panther may have been spotted.

The sightings follow a string of similar reports in which a panther-like creature was seen prowling in fields on the outskirts of Frome.

Since the suspected big cat was seen in the park, patrol staff have discovered a number of pigeon carcasses.

Simon Voyle, 18, one of the patrol men, said: "The first time I saw it I was walking through the park with a friend in the pitch dark with my torch after chaining up the gates.

"It was the length of large filing cabinet and had a curled up tail.

"We thought it was our imaginations, but the next night we saw it again.
"Its eyes were bright yellow.

"The second time we were scared because we were stood in the middle of the park by the miniature golf green which wasn't a clever place to stand."

PC Adam Brown, of Frome Police Station, who took the reports of the sightings, said he was "concerned" that the mysterious animal may have moved into an urban area after sightings on the edge of Frome.

Sue Wilthew is clerk to Frome Town Council, the authority which maintains the park.

She said the public should not be frightened as the unidentified beast is probably more scared of them than they are of it.

"This is not just another sighting of a fox," said Mrs Wilthew.

"We will certainly be keeping an eye out and remaining vigilant.

"I don't think there is any chance of anyone being mauled in the park. But obviously we don't want the public to be exposed to any chewed pigeons.

"However, for now, I think the public is safe."

Robin Godbeer, of the British Big Cat Society (BBCS), said the Dangerous Animal Act of 1976 caused owners of exotic cats to either donate them to zoos or simply release them into the countryside.

He confirmed it is possible that a panther could roam into Frome from the town's surrounding countryside.

"This is clearly a unique sighting and worth investigating," said Mr Godbeer.

"People should not panic as it wouldn't attack a human unless it was cornered or if its cubs were being threatened.

"We would like to hear from anyone who finds paw prints.

"They are between three and four inches and are circular, with four toes in a semi circle at the front, and pads behind.

"There would be no claw marks as they are retracted when walking.

"There could, however, be scratch marks on trees where it has marked its territory."

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