Could a panther be on the prowl in the Lancashire countryside?
A resident in Pilling contacted police over the weekend after spotting a large black cat making its way over the snow-covered fields near her home.
Garstang and Over Wyre police said there had been several reports of a similar animal sighted in the area over the last few years and they were looking into it.
PC Dave Kerfoot said: “We’ve had a report of a sighting of a large, black, panther-sized cat in the Pilling area.
“We’ve had sporadic reports of a similar large cat over the last few years in the Pilling and Over Wyre area.
“If anyone sees anything, please ring us on 101 so we can follow it up.
“The force wildlife officer has been notified, so the information can be collated.”
Evening Post reader Dave Stanhope snapped a large black near the railway line near Burscough (inset) in September last year, which he thought may be a panther or a puma.
The creature was also seen near Tawd Vale Scout Camp in Lathom.
The Big Cats in Britain organisation has also received reports of large cats near Broughton and Woodplumpton.
Danny Bamping of the British Big Cats Society said the latest report in Wyre was interesting as there had been a number of sightings of large cats noted in the area over the years.
He said: “Looking at our data, about 70% of big cat sightings are of big black cats, but that does not mean they are all panthers.
“Another interesting thing is not all these cats are (classified as) big cats: they are only big cats if they have the capacity to roar.”
Danny added many of the beasts spotted in the UK now were second or third generation animals which were the offspring of big cats that were released into the wild many years ago.
Coun Don Lawrenson, who represents Pilling on Wyre Council, said: “This is the first time I’ve had heard of such a beast.
“I’d be interested to find out if anyone catches anything.”