17 reports in three counties in 3 years in an area that does not have [officially] large non-native cats.
Freedom of Information requests showed officers have looked into 17 reports of big cats in Cleveland, Northumbria and County Durham since 2011.
But experts said the evidence for big cats in Britain was shaky at best and that most sightings were probably “mistaken identity”.
However, Ian Bond, an ecologist from Darlington who has sifted through over 200 big cat reports, said he would be surprised if there weren’t some real sightings out there.
He said: “There are certainly many more sightings than can be domestic cats.”
Well, that’s a bit of a false choice there – that all the mistakes are domestic cats. There is ample evidence that some domestic cats get pretty large. I do not agree that all mistakes are cats, some are clearly dogs. Most ARE mistakes, certainly. But because of the possibility of big cats around, there may be a few. What I feel is a more reasonable framing is that there are more sightings than could be actual alien big cats. Because the physical evidence is scant.
Bond notes that there were some big cats smuggled into the country. But, that does not mean there is a breeding population.