After several years learning the basics and observing what we believe were the incorrect manner to deal with the odd reports of alleged exotic cat sightings in the UK. The UPIA altered our techniques to research and actively investigate the continuing number of Cryptozoological events, and introduced groundbreaking procedures for the investigation of the animals, alien to the British wild.
Many people have witnessed and reported apparent large cats throughout the UK. The UPIA has been researching the subject and liaising with the country’s leading experts and officialdoms concerning the subject. We are at present unable to divulge information concerning the whereabouts of the animals, due to safety reasons, especially the protection of the public and the animals in question.
Our aims concerning exotic cats are as follows:
1. To gather as much evidence and information on the area's big cats as possible.
2. Conduct on site investigations.
3. Discover exactly what species of exotic cat is roaming the area.
4. To discover just exactly how they came to be present in the area.
5. To Compile database of local sightings.
6. Respect witnesses confidentiality at all times.
7. Continue to liaise with specialist organisations and officialdoms.
8. To make the public aware of the phenomena.
9. Protect the animal and the public.
In 1976 new laws were introduced by the UK government to govern and regulate exotic animals in the UK.
The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, the Hybrids of domestic animals and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act and the Bengal cats and the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976. This acts forced many private owners to either licence their pets or turn them over to wildlife parks. Some chose to set their animals free, as this wasn't made illegal until the 1981 Countryside Act.
The Act regulates the keeping of certain kinds of dangerous animals as pets. Licences are required for any animal which appears on a schedule to the Act.
We have been able to collate information from more than one source, having access to the databases which each of the afore mentioned acts cover, as well as information available to smaller cat breeders and the registered keepers of cats deemed important to the acts.
We also know that one of Britain’s largest crimes is the import of exotic animals, this added to the law changes in 1976 have seen numerous animals released into the UK countryside and left to fend for themselves. Possible zoological kept animal’s escapes add to the reasons, in my belief, why the UK exotic cat sightings are so prominent.
The UPIA have applied for and received reports from many of the regions police forces under the freedom of information act. We have developed procedures to collect potential evidence, analyse and indicate which animal, specimens belong to.
We have also honed skills in the environment where Cats have been witnessed, employing tracking skills along with our own form of CSI data collection.
For them there beasties here lies some of the best countryside for the secretive felids to exist. I won’t suggest my thoughts and theories are perfect, but from the potential evidence gathered and collated my own views will be difficult to shift.
In January 2006 we decided to begin a programme of gathering testimonies to collate and cross-reference Big Cat sightings, after receiving ten reports from the Staffordshire moorlands via the UPIA website. Not expecting much in the way of witness reports I contacted all local media outlets who each ran similar editorials - The Stoke Evening Sentinel, BBC Radio Stoke, Signal Radio, the Leek Times and Post, the Cheadle Times and Post, the Uttoxeter Times and Post, as well as several other weekly columns - asking for information. The reply was phenomenal and we have continued to advertise for additional tales, at this point the UPIA have received in excess of 300 separate incident reports via email, telephone and letter. Approximately 70% have been either explained or discounted due to lack of information. This leaves us with 95 reports of credible information.
Sightings are continuing to emanate from North Staffordshire, South Cheshire and the Peak District, of a panther-like animal, a lynx, puma and in one case, a lioness, which was found to be a rather large domestic cat, a Maine Coon.
Our belief is that the exotic cats are in existence in the wilds of the UK. I do not believe that there are a multitude of the beasts in our countryside; in fact probably very few are actually about. I also consider many sightings are misidentification; some may be domestic cats introduced into the wilderness and larger than the average size of their breeds. I have also found and logged a high volume of watercourses. Lakes, reservoirs, rivers, canals, streams and many tributaries exist. These offer a perfect area of travel, away from prying eyes and with large areas of dense foliage and forestry, areas we know but may not expect for animals to hide away from public view – the reason for my theory? Of the 95 reports, 67 occur within a short distance from these watercourses. Each has similar distinctive attributes; bigger than a large dog, with powerful hind quarters. Several of the sightings suggest a cat-like animal to be stalking deer; this in particular around the herd at Trentham gardens.
We have made contact and continue communications with the RSPCA, Staffs and Cheshire police, including both forces' wildlife liaison teams, as well as several other officialdoms, groups and individuals.
If you have witnessed a possible big cat - Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Lynx, Caracal, Panther, Norwegian Forest Cat, Scottish Highland Cat or any other potential beast. Please contact the UPIA. All reports will be taken in confidence.