Wild cats shot at separate incidents in Tyrone


SOME said they saw a lion cub. Others said they saw a wild cat or a lynx. The mystery was resolved at the weekend when a wild cat was shot dead at 2 p.m. on Saturday by the RUC in rural Fintona.

Some 10 hours later police marksmen killed an African lynx in a field in the same area of Co Tyrone. In both cases, farmers had reported sightings of the animals.

The African carcal lynx evidently had an owner because it had a black collar around its neck. According to the RUC, the other animal was just an exceptionally large feral or untamed cat. So far police have not been able to trace the origins of the lynx.

The RUC began searching, for a lion cub five days ago when sightings were reported by local farmers. For two days the RUC were uncertain whether they were looking for a young lion or a big cat because of reported sightings of different animals. They contacted two animal owners in Seskinore who keep wild animals, but neither had lost a cat.

RUC inspector Norman McKee said there was no immediate threat to the public, but after consultations with zoo animal experts they could not take the risk of shooting the lynx with a dart tranquilliser, because they would need to be very close.

This latest incident with wild animals on the loose follows just four months after a farmer shot dead an Arctic Wolf in Co Fermanagh.

The Dangerous Animals Act, which controls the ownership of wild animals, applies in Britain but not Northern Ireland where there is no restriction on bringing in wolves, lions, tigers, pumas and other wild animals.