Three friends fishing on the north Wales coast have described seeing what they believed to be a Puma prowling just metres away from where they parked their cars.
Paul Wilson, Paul Owen and Patrick Owen believe they came within 20 metres of the big cat - which they had first assumed was a dog - while they were fishing at Gimblet Rock in Pwllheli.
Paul Wilson said: “We had just parked our cars when we noticed what at first appeared to be a dog of medium to large size sat upright watching us at approximately 20 metres from us.
“It was sat amongst the dune grass which was on a slope going upwards away from us. I walked a few metres towards it whilst my friend turned his headlights on to illuminate it more.
“We all then realised that it was not a dog but a very large cat that then stood up and turned away and loped away from us turning its head to look back once at us. We didn’t see it again. The cat was as big as a golden retriever.”
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Two days later the trio reported it to Puma Watch North Wales who confirmed this sighting was the first ever recorded of a big cat on the Llyn Peninsula.
According to Puma Watch, big cats are usually spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian hills, but reduced human activity since the pandemic has encouraged big cats to roam freely from the hills into more urban and populated areas where sightings have become more frequent.
Puma Watch said there have been sightings in sand dunes across North Wales and most recently, a black panther was reportedly spotted hunting for rabbits and birds in dunes at Prestatyn beach.
Recent studies show there have been more than 100 big cat sightings in 18 months across North and Mid Wales.
The history of big cats in Wales stems back to the 1970s, when it became illegal to keep them as pets.
Avoiding expensive rehoming costs, owners from across the UK travelled to places like Wales to release their cats into the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since.