Thursday 21 January 2010

Big Cat or Thylacine sighting or something else ?

TEN years after he first saw a strange creature in the bush, Don Valley resident Andrew Bligh has had a second encounter with a large cat-like animal. While his sighting may re-ignite talks of big cats in the Valley, Mr Bligh said he thought the creature was more marsupial than feline. “I have been working in the bush pretty much all of my life, but I have never seen anything like this before,” Mr Bligh said. “I was standing on the veranda and I watched it for about a minute as it walked across the road and disappeared into the scrub. I was very still, so it either didn’t notice me, or it wasn’t bothered by my presence.” Mr Bligh described the animal as the size of a large Rottweiler, but with a different, stocky build. He said all four shoulders were of the same height, and it glided along the roadside. “I don’t subscribe to the theories of big cats let loose in the bush, so I am wondering if what we are seeing is actually a naturally occurring animal species we have not come across before,” Mr Bligh said. “My intelligent thought says to me it is a marsupial of some type, but something bigger than what we commonly see.” An internet search for big-cat sightings revealed the Yarra Valley has had many sightings over the years. Dating back to 2001 there have been several sightings recorded in Healesville and Warburton, and even one in Montrose. The Department of Sustainability and Environment’s project leader wildlife management, Ian Temby, said the DSE kept “an open but sceptical mind” about reported sightings of big cats. “In the 50 years that reports have been made about big cats in rural Victoria there has never been any physical evidence to support the sightings,” Mr Temby said. “If big cats were able to breed and maintain a population there would be some evidence other than these supposed sightings. To date there is nothing that would prove their existence. “What people mistake for big cats may be as a result of poor light leading to mistaken size, or it may be a mangy fox.”

I would presume this man knew all the local wildlife by sight, so if he thinks it something new or anomalous , it probably is. Big cat or something else? Maybe more sightings will be forthcoming or even the usual grainy photo , which may help identification.

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