Beast of Bodmin Moor

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British Big Cat of Cornwall. Variant name: Beast of Bolventor. Physical description: Leopard-sized. Black. Behavior: Kills livestock. Distribution: Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, England.

Significant sightings: A large, catlike creature attacked Jane Fuller on October 26, 1993, when she was walking her Labrador dog on Bodmin Moor. She was temporarily stunned by a blow to the head but escaped. Later, two sheep were found dead in an adjoining field; one was decapitated, the other disemboweled.

An investigation from January 12 to July 1, 1995, by the British Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food failed to turn up any conclusive evidence of a resident large cat. The inquiry looked at seventy-seven reports of pumalike or leopardlike cats and livestock killings recorded in the Bodmin Moor area between January 1994 and June 1995. The investigators, Simon Baker and Charles Wilson, determined that videos taken of the Beast showed nothing more than black domestic cats; a film showing an alleged panther cub's face close up was only a cat's, since its pupils contracted to a slit, not to a circle like a leopard's would have; the tracks were only cat-sized, except for one that was attributable to a dog; and the kills were probably perpetrated by a medley of dogs, foxes, crows, and badgers.

A skull found in the River Fowey near St. Cleer, Cornwall, on July 24, 1995, turned out to be from an imported leopard-skin rug.

Another investigation in December 1997 was prompted by bite marks on livestock, droppings, and new photos—one of which was taken through binoculars near St. Austell, Cornwall, and apparently shows a pregnant adult female puma and a cub.

Sources: Karl Shuker, "The Beast of Bodmin, and a Lesson in 'Skull-duggery!'" Strange Magazine, no. 16 (Fall 1995): 29-30; Paul Siev eking, "Not as Simple as ABC," Fortean Times, no. 83 (October-November 1995): 44-45; "The Beast of Bodmin Is Caught on Film," Cryptozoology Review 2, no. 3 (WinterSpring 1998): 8-9; Chris Moiser, Mystery Cats of Devon and Cornwall (Launceston, England: Bossiney Books, 2001).

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