A PURE white big cat the size of an Alsatian seen roaming across a Nailsworth street has further fuelled fears a large predatory feline is on the prowl in the Five Valleys.
The sighting was made in Chestnut Close just days before the half-eaten carcass of a roe deer was discovered in nearby Woodchester Park, prompting big cat experts to focus their attention on the area.
SNJ reader Juliette Myers has also revealed she found a ‘disembowelled sheep’ in a field between Uley and Nympsfield on Sunday, January 8, less than a week after dog walkers discovered the mutilated deer on National Trust land near Selsley Hill on January 4.
Results of DNA samples taken from horrific wounds on the deer are due by the end of the month but the way the animal was killed and devoured suggests either a panther or puma was to blame.
Chestnut Close resident Andy Todd this week revealed witnessing the beast outside his home around 5am on December 10.
He was about to leave for work when he glimpsed the brilliant white ‘cat’ sniffing at bushes before casually crossing the residential road and disappearing out of sight.
"It stood there for about a minute or two – I’d say it was larger than an Alsatian," said Mr Todd.
"It was pure white - that’s what shocked me. It almost looked like a small a polar bear."
Big cat expert Frank Tunbridge, who personally examined the deer carcass along fellow expert Rick Minter, called Mr Todd’s report ‘very unusual’ and said he had only heard of ‘one or two’ white big cat sightings in the UK in the past 20 years.
"It could be an albino, which would give any predatory animal a disadvantage," he said.
"Apart from its colour its description is identical to most other sightings – about Labrador size with a small head and long tail."
More than 2,500 big cat sightings are noted each year across the UK with Gloucestershire featuring among the highest number of reports behind Devon and Yorkshire.
Frank believes the creatures are breeding here and that the county’s numerous derelict Cotswold stone quarries are providing them an ideal habitat.
"The countryside and abundance of valleys are ideal for them because they like to be high and look down on their prey," he said.
Two other notable sightings reported in the district include a cat and two cubs emerging from woodland in Westrip last March and a more recent sighting of three big cats in a group spotted near Minchinhampton Common.