UK & World News
'Big Cat' Hunted In Co Down After Sheep Savaged
A "big cat" could be behind the deaths of a number of sheep that are being investigated by police in Northern Ireland, officers said.
The animals were mauled in the Hillsborough and Dromara areas of Co Down.
Officers said the sheep appeared to have been victims of "violent animal attacks" while other livestock have been found bloodied and injured, with further animals having been reported missing.
A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokeswoman said residents claimed to have seen a big cat in the same area.
"These issues have now been brought to police attention and local officers are making inquiries," she added.
"While we would stress that there has been no confirmation of the presence of any 'big cat' in the area, we would ask that anyone who has lost sheep or other livestock in similar fashion recently or anyone who sees an animal which they believe to be dangerous, get in contact police.
"Under no circumstances should any wild or undomesticated animal be approached."
It is understood the dead animals were found at farms in the Hill Road, Ballynahinch Road and Mullaghdrin Road areas over recent weeks.
Big cat sightings are regularly reported across Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with the so-called Beast of Bodmin Moor being among the most famous.
However, such sighting are rarely confirmed to be big cats prowling the countryside.
Last year, Essex Police launched a full-scale hunt for a lion following claims from residents and holidaymakers that a big cat had been seen in a field. It was quickly decided, though, that the animal was probably just a large domestic cat or a dog.