UK
02/09/2013 11:41 BST

'Big Cat' Fears Following Series Of Violent Animal Attacks In Northern Ireland

A mysterious creature is slaughtering animals in Northern Ireland and experts fear a puma is on the loose.

Police are now investigating after a number of sheep were found savaged following a series of potential "big cat" attacks.

It is unknown what mauled the dead animals but local residents are said to have seen a large cat-like animal.

puma

Witnesses have described seeing a 'big cat'

There have been more than 20 sightings of a wild cat on Northern Ireland's north coast.

USPCA chief executive Stephen Philpott said he was convinced the cat was a puma.

"Now the challenge is how we remove it from the Northern Ireland countryside," he said.

Officers said the sheep appeared to have been victims of "violent animal attacks" while other livestock have been found bloodied and injured, with further animals having been reported missing.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Philpott said that this animal was an "amateur" who was used to receiving his food on a plate.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokeswoman said residents have claimed to have seen a big cat in the same area.

She added: "These issues have now been brought to police attention and local officers are making inquiries.

"While we would stress that there has been no confirmation of the presence of any 'big cat' in the area, we would ask that anyone who has lost sheep or other livestock in similar fashion recently or anyone who sees an animal which they believe to be dangerous, get in contact police.

"Under no circumstances should any wild or undomesticated animal be approached."

It is understood the dead animals were found at farms in the Hill Road, Ballynahinch Road and Mullaghdrin Road areas over the last number of weeks.