Calderdale’s catbeast has been sighted again – for the first time in three years.
Vanessa Pickles, of Brow Foot Gate Lane, Cote Hill, Halifax, was in a car on her way to work when she spotted a huge cat roaming a lane leading into Copley Woods from Wakefield Road.
She said: “I was in the back of the car, stuck in roadworks in Copley. The traffic was backed up quite a way, almost to the Halifax building.
“Up one of the small roads I just saw this thing going down towards the road.”
Miss Pickles, 24, said it was definitely not a domestic cat and was about the size of a large dog.
“It was 10 feet from the road moving towards the traffic, which surprised me because you’d think it would be scared.
“It looked like a lynx with black and brown patterned markings. It was like a bengal cat but much bigger.”
It is not the first big cat sighting in Calderdale. Between 2005 and 2007 a spate of sightings at Cunnery Woods, Hipperholme; Park Road, Elland; Cragg Vale and Copley were reported in the Courier.
Some of these matched Miss Pickles’ description while others referred to a larger black beast like a panther or puma.
Calderdale Council’s countryside manager Ted Ashman said they could be exotic pets that were released into the wild when laws changed, forcing owners to license them.
He said: “They are wild animals and are quite capable of finding prey themselves. We have got a good population of deer in Calderdale and they would be more than capable of bringing a deer down.
“We’ve got good cover here and plenty of rabbits, so there is enough natural food to sustain a big cat, should we have one wandering around.
“They are quite shy and elusive creatures so they wouldn’t show themselves often.”
Big cat enthusiast Paul Westwood said the latest sighting could be a lynx.
“The lynx used to be a natural animal here and there are people who want to bring them back.
“Nationally we get a couple of hundred sightings a year but without any picture evidence you can never be certain.”
Mr Westwood said the length of time since the alst sighting may be because the animal has been in another area or simply has been too good at hiding from potential spotters.
This hasn’t deterred Miss Pickles who says she is still hopeful of seeing the creature again.
“I just keep looking up the road whenever we go back past,” she said.
• Have you seen the cat beast? Do you believe there could be big cats running wild in Calderdale? Email firstname.lastname@example.org