Big cat spotted 50km away from Pas-de-Calais puma sightings

Authorities could not catch the animal and were unable to determine whether it is the same one that was spotted in Auxi-le-Château a fortnight ago

3 November 2021

A team of police officers, gendarmes, professional hunters and a vet tried to track down the animal to no avail Pic: hadescom / Shutterstock

By Emma Morgan

A big cat has been sighted in an industrial area on the outskirts of Arras, over 50km away from the village of Auxi-le-Château, where a puma was spotted on the loose on October 13 and is yet to be found.

Read more: Update: Pas-de-Calais puma can be caught, say French wildlife groups

Read more: Petition condemns decision to shoot puma on loose in north France

Around 03:00 on Sunday morning (October 31), a motorist reported having seen the cat on a narrow road near Dainville and Achicourt on the outskirts of Arras. 

A police team from Arras were sent to the scene and also saw the cat. Police officers, gendarmes, professional hunters and a vet then began to track the animal and a helicopter was deployed to survey the area. 

Thermal imaging technology was used to locate the cat, which had taken refuge in a copse. However, the authorities were not able to coax it out, despite a hunt lasting until midday, and the search was eventually abandoned.

Those who saw the cat described it as having spots and a short tail, while the animal first seen in Auxi-le-Château had light, unspotted fur and was of a larger build. 

“According to these visual descriptions, this is not the same animal as the one in Auxi,” said Montreuil-sur-Mer sub-prefect Frédéric Sampson. 

“The helicopter intervention confirmed that there was a cat in the copse, without being able to determine its size, or whether it was a large [domestic] cat or a small big cat.”

However, it was later suggested that the cat’s spots could in fact have been dirt, as police teams who saw the animal walk nearby their vehicle believed it to have the same characteristics as the Auxi puma, reports La Voix du Nord

According to this newspaper, the cat was about 80cm tall and had “a large head.”

“The authorities remain vigilant and on high alert in the hope of finding the animal,” sub-prefect of Béthune Chantal Ambroise told Franceinfo

There have been numerous reports of big cat sightings in the area over the past few days, but several appear to be false. 

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