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Thursday, 4 August 2022

The Bush Dog of Heywood

It looks for all the world like a bush dog. The bush dog is a canine found in Central and South America. In spite of its extensive range, it is very rare in most areas except in Suriname, Guyana and Peru I doubt anyone has one of those as they are near threatened and no good as pets but until someone gets a better photo it looks like a bush dog

A fox? A bear? A 'furry pig thing'? A 'half-pig half-fox'? A bush dog?

The people of Heywood have been left mystified over an animal that a local resident claimed to have spotted in Queen's Park. Local resident John told the MEN he spotted it yesterday morning while out on his daily walk.

He posted a photo of the small, furry animal into the Heywood Town Facebook group and asked 'anyone know what this is?'. It caused quite a stir... with hundreds commenting on the post with their suggestions.

Danielle said: "Looks like a bear." Denise wrote: "It's a fox".

Laura offered an unusual suggestion. "It looks half pig half fox", she said.

"It's a racoon dog", Stacey commented. Josh asked: "Is it a mink maybe?".

Most people identified the animal as a bush dog, which are canines native to Central and South America. They live in forests and wet savannahs and it would be extremely rare to see one in the UK.

Chris wrote: "It's a bush dog". Emily said: "Ring RSPCA, it's a bush dog".

Jennifer O'Neill said: "Omg it's a bush dog they are awesome they have them at Yorkshire wildlife park. They don't live in the wild here though should let RSPCA know."

But a few people questioned whether the animal was actually spotted in Heywood at all. Adam wrote: "Gullible people". Maxine asked: "Wind up?".

Whether the animal was spotted in Heywood or not, it definitely got people talking. The mystery continues...

below a bush dog 

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Escaped Prairie Dog (Bristol)

 A person in Hanham on the outskirts of Bristol today told their FB friends that 7 days ago their Prairie dog escaped.

Well, quick to alert people.
Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are herbivorous burrowing ground squirrels native to the grasslands of North America.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

It is NOT another "Big Cat" fantasy book.


I need to correct what someone said in a comment elsewhere.

The Red Paper 2022 Vol. II: Felids is not a "British big cats book".

I am a naturalist who has specialised in canids and felids since 1977 and from 1977-2017 (still occasionally) I was an "exotic animals" consultant to UK police forces from the Scottish Highlands, Wales, Northern Ireland and across England. We have enough evidence to say that the various medium, small and one large cat is present in the UK and I have mentioned some of that evidence on this blog before.

I have also, since 1980, studied wild cats and wild cat history going as far back as possible. I have also looked into feral domestics in the UK and have looked at island feral cats in the UK and wild cats in the Mediterranean.

The Red Paper does have a huge section on what I term New Native Cat species and there is evidence of breeding etc going a long way back. I look at this, what impact they may have had on the eco system as well as the physical evidence we have. I am a naturalist so follow the evidence whether anecdotal or physical and the book is fully referenced so that it can be peer reviewed.

The book also looks at the history of the English and Welsh wild cats and how they survived longer than most conventional text books state (some dates online are off by 300+ years when it comes to their extinction). I look at the former Scottish wild cat which even zoologists in Scotland declared extinct in 1897 -the wild tabby promoted as Felis silvestris today is a hybrid cat. This, again, is shown by citing references from experts on these cats going back to 1790 and even into the early 20th century when dogma set in.

I do take a look at various smaller cats that we know are in the UK and may have been misidentified as puma and panthers in the past.

The book is wide ranging as it is re-writing British wildlife history and I am quite sure the promoters of dogma will attack it and make various claims (I note how very uncooperative the Natural History Museum in London was while wanting to know the scope and contents of the book)  -this is why the book is fully referenced so that any challenge can be countered.

There are many rare and never before seen photographs (most in colour) and I hope the book will lead to a new, better educated, generation of naturalists and zoologists.

It is NOT another "Big Cat" fantasy book.

Big Cats of Britain / Road Kill / Kellas type Black cat

Working with UK police forces since 1977 I have heard reports of large cats killed in the UK and even have the official affidavit of the witness to a cat killed by a MAFF assigned vet (confirmed by police).    Nothing new. We have leopard DNA, bones studied showing that a large cat was the killer, so many photos of sheep and horse attacks, puma droppings, tracks, scratch posts and so much more.

It does not have to be proven that the cats are in the UK as we confirmed this over 24 years ago. In the case of this video, and based on the location and diagnostics this is an outsized black feral domestic -what police wildlife officers called "Hooper cats".

WARNING video contains graphic images

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Large cats Have Always Been Sighted in the UK

 Here is a little education for those who like to spout various false 'facts' -the 'big cats' were released or escaped during the two world wars and before the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act,  

It is very likely that "exotic" escapees, mainly cats for the purpose of this post, were escaping in Roman times or after the Romans withdrew from Britain (388-400 AD). We know that primates were given as gifts to Iron age chieftains before the Romans and these gifts (or even traded for) animals may have included cats -that is an assumption based on what we know. We know the Romans withdrew and this probably did not involve them packing up all of their animals kept for arena 'sports' -some may have just been left to live on, released so that if they became a problem the locals could have some 'sport' of their own. Some Romano-British may have kept exotic animals or even their own little private menageries as a symbol of status.

Basically, we have never (since the Iron age at least) not had some form of exotic animal escape or living wild for however long. Some very old accounts I am trying to access the original sources for.

visiting a menagerie c 1790 (c)2022 EAR Archive

It is now believed by more than a few scholars that the lynx survived in Britain until at least the Medieval period until hunted into extinction. At that time the felicide was slowly cutting down the number of  British wild cats -cats only slightly smaller than the lynx. Looking at many of the old superstitious "black dog" tales there are more than a few similarities between the 'dogs' and large cats.  The anecdotal evidence is there but gets ignored by certain factions who want to bring fantasy into historical facts.

In The Red Paper II: Felids I look at some of this and after 40 plus years of studying archives and modern news accounts  I know that nearly any fatal "attack" from an exotic cat was the result of human stupidity and in at least one early 19th century case the attack was provoked by a person regularly entering a panther cage to physically abuse it -the actual property owner had ordered the person involved not to enter the cage again and stop what he was doing; he didn't listen and...died. Circuses tended to be the other source of people being injured by all sorts of animals and in many cases the animals reactions were to be expected.

If you are interested in the fact that gorillas were in Britain before "officially" being discovered as well as other early primate research then  Some More things Strange & Sinister has that covered

The Georgian Period (1714 to c. 1830–37) saw a huge rise in popularity of menageries both static and mobile and escapes were far from unknown -a trend that continued into the early 20th century.  Every country house or estate had to have its own menagerie and animals were brought in from all over the world and South America was a main region for animal captures -jaguars, black pumas you name it and it was trapped and shipped back to the Motherland.

Above; Health and Safety would faint! People could put their hands into cages and at the Tower Zoo patrons got in if they brought a dog to watch the cats kill -animal husbandry involved a wooden stick or iron bar to keep animals in check or "fierce for the punters" (c)2022 EAR Archives

My sheer accident while reading old books for research in another subject I can across a report from Somerset dating to the 1840s of what was clearly a panther (but the author and locals believed it to be the spirit of a dead man). Looking at the plotted time line of cats sightings in Britain it is clear that many escapes took places and the problem is that sources are or were scattered far and wide in ancestral diaries and records which I cannot get access to. Certain reports, as noted, are being looked into.

The mythology around The Girt Dog (Great Hound) of Ennerdale 1810 shows how unscrupulous people out to sell books or themselves as experts will not let facts get in the way -The red Paper I: Canids will, I hope, kick a good few of these charlatans hard in their arses.

When we come to the early 20th Century we find a pet puma escaping and an early hunt to recapture it in Surrey. Yes, the original Surrey puma decades before its more famous follower on!  Lynx -said to be two but possibly 3 or more- running wild in Scotland in 1927 and the source of these cats (if there was one) was never discovered and it may be not all of the cats were killed.

John Clarke and a few friends (c)2022 EAR Archives

That the First and second World Wars as well as the 1976 DWAA are constantly referred to is because (with the exception of the DWAA) people have used the research published by myself and colleagues back in the 1990s/early 2000s and while I continued the research and learnt more the data thieves have done nothing but constantly refer to the same outdated data -outdated 20 years ago.

Whereas a lot of wild speculation is given out I (sadly most of my contemporaries are no longer here) tend to dig into things and prefer to not wildly speculate. I know -the reports and other information shows this- that what I prefer to term New Native Cats are breeding but their numbers are low and NOT in the "hundreds" or even "1000 to 2000".  

Be aware that (pardon my English) these cats have never not been here.

Friday, 22 July 2022

Face Book Page

 More news items tend to go onto here as it is easier so if you want to check out what is going on...

Why No Road Kill?


The answer to that question is that we do get reports of road-kill in the UK. Since 1980 I have had reports of road kill jungle cats, wolverine (and the story behind that disgraces a certain national museum), wallabies, wolves and at least three people whose word I will accept (one completely) have seen large "exotic" cats dead by the roadside but not the roadside where you can pull in, take photographs or even put the animal into the boot of a car.  These have all been on busy motorways.

The only big cat I have seen in the wild was a road-kill panther on the Netherlands-German motorway. In fact, if you do travel along a motorway you will see badgers, foxes, sheep -basically all types of dead animal including birds. I would have loved to have taken a photo of the panther we passed but that was risking a collision of some kind. You cannot simply pull over on a British motorway to check out a dead animal unless you are suicidal (it is why you are told that if you break down on the motorway to pull in and leave the car to go to a safer position).

I have had a report of a quite large cat -possibly a juvenile puma- as well as an adult on another occasion. I do know one person who did pull in to get photos of a dead cat but then thought better of it as a juggernaut shot past within at least two inches of his car and a car beeped its horn as it had to swerve past him (on the hard shoulder). The whole experience left him shaken.

With wildlife rescues you find that if a deer or other animal they have responded to a call about is dead when they get there then it is moved to the side of the road onto a verge, into a ditch or hedgerows. The reason is that they can do nothing for a dead animal so better to leave it for "nature to take its course" -a free meal for other wildlife. Funnily enough one such deer I was told about popped up on a big cat site where it was explained that a big cat must have killed it and dragged it into the hedgerow -they had not examined the carcasse and all they went by was a photo someone had sent in.

On the other side of that I know one driver reported a large brown cat (puma) had killed a sheep and was eating it. I knew the farm where this had happened so contacted the farmer who knew of the cat in his area. He explained that the sheep had been killed by a car after pushing its way through a fence. It had been dead over a day when the puma 'killed' it.

As a rule there is no regular motorway clean up of dead animals because they are on the side of the road where no one is bothered by them so "let nature take its course".  With a lot of motorists and truckers having cameras fitted these days in case of accidents I do wonder how much footage exists of road kill and how much of that footage shows large cats or other "exotics" and it all gets deleted?

Road kill can tell us a lot about what wildlife is in an area and it certainly would be nice to get some verifiable clips for study.

The Bush Dog of Heywood

It looks for all the world like a bush dog. The bush dog is a canine found in Central and South America. In spite of its extensive range, it...