Botcherby Big Cat (2013)
On 20 May 2013 the following article by Emily Parsons entitled ‘A BIG cat spotter claims a recent “lynx” sighting in Carlisle is not the first’, was published in the News and Star.
Sharon Larkin, 41, from Broughton Cross, told the News & Star that the mysterious creature spotted between Botcherby and Harraby was first reported to her in February. Shelley McNeill and her two daughters had reported seeing the feline on the railway track above the area known as The Arches last Tuesday morning.
They described it as being four-times the size of a household cat, and an internet search revealed it may have been a lynx.
Miss Larkin, a mum-of-four, runs the Big Cats in Cumbria Facebook group and spends most of her weekends searching for evidence that they exist.
“I want to be the first person to prove without doubt that they are real,” she insisted. “The lynx reported in the News & Star last week was seen in February by a man in Todhills.
“He heard rustling in his skip and thought someone was ratching through it.”
Miss Larkin continued: “When he looked out of the window he saw it was a lynx, with a short tail and tufty ears.”
The “lynx” has only been sighted more recently; Miss Larkin says the more usual reports she receives are of a black panther-type cat.
“This was seen in the Rockcliffe and Cargo area,” she explained, “but appears to have crossed the river and is now in the Scotby and Harraby areas.
“People are too afraid to report it or talk about it, for fear of being laughed at. I was in a pub in Rockcliffe explaining what I was doing and a farmer told me he had shot a big cat about 10 years ago because it was eating his geese.”
The farmer would not tell Miss Larkin where he had buried the carcass though, as he “didn’t want to go there”.
There are many theories as to the truth behind the mysterious feline: some people believe they were previously kept as pets, and then released into the wild after the introduction of the Dangerous and Wild Animals Act; other people believe they may be Scottish wild cats; and sceptics insist it is the overactive imagination of the viewer.
Anyone who has spotted a big cat is encouraged to join the Big Cats in Cumbria Facebook group.