Beast of Bodmin

Beast of Bodmin

Cornwall's mysterious beast

The Beast of Bodmin, also known as The Beast of Bodmin Moor, is a phantom wild cat purported to live in Cornwall. Bodmin Moor became a centre of these sightings with occasional reports of mutilated slain livestock: the alleged panther-like cats of the same region came to be popularly known as the Beast of Bodmin Moor.

A long held hypothesis suggests the possibility that alien big cats at large in the United Kingdom could have been imported as part of private collections or zoos, later escaped or set free. An escaped big cat could not be reported to the authorities due to the illegality of owning and importing the animals.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food conducted an official investigation in 1995. The study found that there was "no verifiable evidence" of exotic felines loose in Britain, and that the mauled farm animals could have been attacked by common indigenous species. The report stated that "the investigation could not prove that a 'big cat' is not present."

Less than a week after the government report, a boy was walking by the River Fowey when he discovered a large cat skull. Measuring about four inches wide and seven inches long, the skull was lacking its lower jaw but possessed two sharp, prominent canines that suggested that it might have been a leopard. The story hit the national press at about the same time of the official denial of alien big cat evidence on Bodmin Moor.

In October 1997, a big cat was spotted drinking in a disused quarry in the St. Austell area. Casts of its footprints where compared with those of the pumas in Newquay Zoo and found to be almost an exact match. The creature's paw prints and droppings were also discovered at the same time on a local beach. The tracks came from a rocky outcrop which can only be reached from an extremely steep cliff.

In November 1999 RAF reserve volunteers spent a night camped in ditches and under hedges with the latest military night-vision equipment. But all attempts by members of 2625 County of Cornwall Squadron to spot a big cat were scuppered by low cloud and mist. In an interview with the BBC, Squadron Leader Andrew McCombe said that several intruder detection devices were triggered during the night. "So something was moving along the tracks," he said, "but because of the cloud we could not get a good look. It was an interesting and useful training exercise."

Bodmin Moor       Cornwall's Wildlife