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More than one puma?

Experts say it is likely there are several pumas living in the countryside surrounding Brookmans Park.  They also think they could be mating and producing young.

On Wednesday night, October 14, a tracker employed by the Metropolitan Police accompanied local resident Peter Shearer on a walk around Gobions Woods to try to find traces of the animals. Map of Area

Peter who lives in the Gardens, Brookmans Park, had raised the alarm after seeing a puma a few nights earlier while out walking his dog.  He heard a rustle in the bushes and saw it disappear into the undergrowth.  He says it was much larger than a dog but moved like a cat.  His wife Anne had reported seeing the creature 18 months ago.

Mating call

According to the police tracker the puma that is thought to be living near Brookmans Park is a female and it has been heard giving the mating call.  He is convinced there are more than one in the area and there could be families of the creatures living in the local countryside.

The American Puma is also known as the cougar or mountain lion.  A large male puma can grow to 1.8m (6ft) and weigh almost 100kg (220lbs).  They can survive in forested areas and hunt for prey mainly at night.  They eat rodents, rabbits and deer.

Police search

Several weeks ago police searched the woodlands and fields around Potters Bar and South Mimms in the hunt for the pumas after a number of sightings. Two police officers reported seeing what they described as a sandy coloured animal larger than a Labrador dog. Police helicopters with heat-seeking equipment were called in but they failed to find the animal.

Since then Helen Shawyer of Great North Road, Brookmans Park, has seen a large cat-like creature on two occasions while walking near Gobions Wood.  She says it is definitely not a domestic cat and is larger than a Great Dane dog.   She saw it on the track at the edge of the fields.  "It moved fast and sprinted away when I approached", she said.

Huge paw prints

Helen reported her sighting to the police and RSPCA and, after examining the paw prints left behind in the mud, they confirmed the animal was a puma.

According to the police tracker the pumas are probably living off rabbits, foxes and badgers.  They patrol their particular area mainly at night or early evening and sleep during that patrol whenever and wherever they feel tired.

The pumas are not new to this area and there have been several reports of sightings in recent years although no one has been able to photograph the animals or find any evidence of their existence other than paw prints.

Its thought the pumas could have originally been family pets but were let loose when an Act of Parliament was introduced in 1976 making it an offence to keep a dangerous animal.

Returned to the wild

According to police it won't be long before the pumas are rounded up.   The tracker has been employed for a month to find the animals.  Arrangements have already been made with London Zoo for them to be taken there before they are shipped to a more appropriate environment.

A reader from America, Allison Blackham has sent in the following advice about Pumas issued by her local authority ... click here.

Puma Links

South American Puma
Puma (Felis Concolour)
Puma habitat
Big Cats - Puma
The Cat Survival Trust

Previous news items
'Puma' panic passes - Sept 27, 1998.

'Have Your Say'

Oct 14, 1998

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