THREE new big cat sightings have been reported in Gloucester during the last week – prompting calls for police to patrol urban areas to keep people safe.
Panther-like creatures have been reported in areas including Hempsted, Barnwood and Kingsway.
John Wildsmith, 55, of Hempsted Lane, was left startled when he saw a big cat the "size of an Alsatian dog" prowling menacingly on fields behind his back garden.
He saw it at around 10pm last Monday from an upstairs bedroom window.
"It was jet black, with a big curly tail," he said.
"It sat there for around 10 minutes. I didn't take a snap because I didn't want to startle it, but I wish I had."
Chris Linker, from Coney Hill, called The Citizen after seeing a big cat bound across Barnwood Road, near the Wall's roundabout at 5.30am on Thursday.
"It went across the road in two leaps, then over a gate," he said. "It was long and black, with a long tail. I'm not 100 per cent sure it was a cat but it's hard to see what else it could have been. It could be a danger to pets and children."
Brian Thell, 51, of Thatcham Avenue, Kingsway, said he spotted a big cat prowling around his back garden.
He said: "Last Tuesday morning I was up at 5.30am and in the back garden I am sure I saw something that looked like a panther – it prowling around and as soon as I could get a camera it cleared off.
"I couldn't believe it. I went to work and was quite shaken as I got to the car."
Mr Thell said he wanted to see police patrolling urban areas.
"I don't know whether to tell The Citizen or the police," he said.
"I reckon the police need to patrol the area, this kind of cat looks like it could so some damage."
Big cat sightings have rocketed since the National Trust and Warwick University conducted tests for DNA on two deer carcasses found near Woodchester and Dursley in January.
Video footage taken by Stroud teaching assistant Coryn Memory which showed what could be a big cat near Stroud, has sparked national interest.
Sightings and deer carcass finds have been reported in Woodchester, Nailsworth, Rendcomb, Bishop's Cleeve, Nottingham Hill, Upton St Leonards, and Coopers Edge.
A Gloucestershire police spokeswoman said: "There remains nothing to suggest any potential threat of harm to the public, but should any information come to light that causes concern Gloucestershire police will take the appropriate action, based on evidence provided to us, in partnership with organisations, such as Natural England and Defra."