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No trace of big cat DNA, scientists find

By CitizenNews  |  Posted: February 02, 2012

  • Dr Allaby tests a deer carcass. Picture by Rick Minter

  • Dr Allaby tests the DNA. Pic by Rick Minter

  • Frank Tunbridge has set up a secret camera to try and capture a big cat on film

  • Stripped - the deer carcass at Woodchester Park

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DNA tests on dead deer in Gloucestershire show no trace of big cats.

Extensive tests on two carcasses found near Woodchester Park and Dursley have drawn a blank on a big cat but point to a fox instead.

"We did not detect cat DNA on either deer carcass," said Dr Robin Allaby of the University of Warwick, which was asked to conduct the tests by the National Trust.

"Other than deer, by far the strongest genetic signal we found on the Woodchester Park carcass was from a fox. That fox DNA was found on the ribs, legs and plucking sites from the Woodchester deer carcass."

Wounds on both deer led to speculation that it may have been killed by a big cat, and several sightings were subsequently reported in the area. National interest surrounded the tests, and the results were released under embargo to Woodchester residents last night (Wednesday) ahead of the official announcement at midnight.

Although analysis of the second carcass is not complete, Dr Allaby expects it to indicate fox DNA.

It was buried then exhumed so Dr Allaby and his team could try t extract DNA.

Rick Minter, author of a new book on big cats reported in Britain, said: "We should not be complacent about possible big cats in the UK, but considering these animals living secretly in our landscape can fire people's imaginations and help us consider all of the wild nature around us."

Gloucester big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge said the results did not mean big cats are not roaming the county."The deer had been out three days in bad weather, and foxes can come in after a big cat kill," he said.

David Bullock, the trust's national head of nature conservation said DNA would have remained on the carcasses despite the delay and the weather conditions however.

Last night Mr Minter and Mr Tunbridge led a meeting called by the parish magazine, the Woodchester Word, to discuss the deer carcass finds.

Paul Syrett, who made the discovery of the carcass at Boundary Court Farm near Woodchester Park on Wednesday, January 4, told the meeting it been moved twice afterwards in subsequent days, probably by another animal.

Dr Allaby took 45 samples in total on Friday, January 6, from the wounds of the deer to test specifically for DNA from the saliva of dog, fox, or cat species which had killed or scavenged from the deer. He carried out 450 amplifications of the target DNA.

His team searched for more than 30 different cat gene targets and only two of each of deer, dog and fox. County National Trust head ranger David Armstrong said: "The story of the investigation of the dead deer has really sparked off local curiosity with a lot of people coming out to Woodchester Park to explore.

"People love a mystery like this and although we haven't found a wild cat, many of our visitors clearly believe there might be something interesting living quietly hidden in Woodchester."

Of the more than 100 residents who attended the meeting, most were not afraid of an attack and felt that if a big cat is in the area, it should not be persecuted.

Woodchester villagers' reaction and debate

Dog walker claims he saw big cat in Woodmancote

Big cat expert Frank Tunbridge explains why he believes in the phenomenon

Big cat with silky fur spotted in Abbeymead

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  • bigcatman  |  February 14 2012, 10:58PM

    Just a jumbo hoax: Documentary maker shows video of empty river that was doctored to show Siberian 'mammoth' Iceland's sea monster unmasked: Experts say it's a piece of cloth snagged on a branch in fast-flowing river What's to show and prove that the so-called sightings of "big cats" in the Gloucestershire county are real and true, given that the Siberian "mammoth" and the Iceland "lake monster" have been debunked and are now shown as fakes? All the CCRI study will show is what views the general readers have on the myth of such sightings, it is not a true or real gauge, but merely a measure as to the perseption of the myth. A friend of mine said this to me today: Was so funny today at Ed Zoo all these visitors going wow look at the Black panther. When the sign clearly said JAGUAR! That clearly says a lot, and goes to show that most people fail to see the obvious that is clearly in front of them. People in general fail to see the obvious that is right in front of them, put a sign up, people ignore. If we were to slow ourselves down then we would not miss the obvious and therefore live a more fruitful life. Just because Frank Tunbridge says that he "heard it growl at him", and "he is 100% sure that there are big cats out there", afterall he is an "expert big cat tracker" strangly enough which even he admits that he has never caught, tracked or found a "big cat". So why should we and everyone belive him? Pseudo-sightings and with a co-friend who just so happens to have published a book on the "big cats in UK" which just so happens all these sightings just appeared in the press within days of the book release. One then wonders who or what are the real motives of this man and his pseudo-sightings which have never been proved thus far, even the DNA came back as negative. So why should we believe this man? There is no such science called cryptozoology and this is what is called a pseudo word, a made up word. It's not a science, because once the animal is found, it's just normal zoology, can't study what you can't see can you? It is simply a widely recognised term for a section of research. - Sorry for the information but this pseudo-word has to be shown in it's right context. Oxford cryptozoology • noun the search for animals whose existence is disputed or unsubstantiated Cryptozoology concerns itself with unknown species for which there are "legends" or "myths" (for want of a better word) and with supposedly-extinct species. Strictly-speaking, a species that is simply unknown is not cryptozoological. The overall problem with debating the specifics of the meaning of the term "cryptozoology" is that it is not a legitimate field of science. Any idiot can call himself a cryptozoologist as if it means something important and it does not. A zoologist is a legitimate title, as is geologist, biologist, etc. Cryptozoologist means nothing. The discovery of a new animal is not Cryptozoology, but the search for one is. For example, if you told me you'd been on holiday and saw a little green frog that seemed to be using bio luminescence, and I decided it may be a new or believed extinct species and went to go look, that would be cryptozoology

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  • bigcatman  |  February 06 2012, 12:21AM

    (taken from the Herald, Scottish broadsheet news paper; Saturday 4th Feb 2012) Here's to those determined big cat trackers in Gloucestershire with their night vision goggles, telephoto lenses and recording equipment. They have quite rightly dismissed recent DNA tests on a deer carcass that claim a fox was responsible. Why would a fox attack something that wasn't in a bin liner? The incidents began a few weeks back when various weekend residents of pretty Cotswold villages found their City bonuses mauled and strewn across the lawn. Anxious parents brought forward the dates of their children's BCG jab – the so-called Big Cat Guard booster – and everyone began logging onto Big Cat Monitors.co.uk which, incidentally, is a genuine website and not the superstore in which your average puma around town buys his flat-screen TV. The sightings are by no means restricted to the south, of course. Scotland has enjoyed more than its fair share, since many big cats have relocated to the north, attracted by its wide open spaces, discarded pizza boxes and opportunity to take part in referendums. In 2004 there were stories about the Coulport Cougar, seen near Loch Long. In 2007, the Ban***hire Journal carried a breathless report about a "big, black, panther-like animal" that was seen near the Banff Links, although sadly no mention was made of its handicap. In 2009, another panther-sized big cat was seen walking along the railway line in Helensburgh. Shaun Stevens, a researcher for Big Cats in Britain – another genuine body, in case you're wondering, and not a list of the nation's millionaires – commented: "Knowing the width of the rail tracks in the video is four feet, eight-and-a-half inches, the animal photographed is clearly in excess of four feet." This statement sent members of Panthers, Railways and Train Timetables into paroxysms of joy. Or would have done if such a group existed. The video footage of these and other sightings is oddly compelling. Often you hear nothing but the sound of the wind, or the breathing of the person holding the mobile or camera. Then the creature appears, walking along the top of a dry stone dyke, or skulking at the edge of a field. We want these stories to be true, want something untamed to be out there, free. Big cats, Big Foot, the Yeti, all of them. Instead, we just have the Not Yeti, so familiar to parents. "Have you done your homework?" You know the response - end quote The article says it all. Frank Tubridge must have found something in all that snow, surely? So much for being and "expert bigcat tracker" If going by his BBC Radio 4 interview then sadly the man nneds to change career even if he is a car-boot helper. The journalist mocks Frank by asking how many bigcats has he caught in his traps? None he said, then replied he is 100% certain that such cats are out there! Those like Tunbridge, Minter, Stevens, Bamping and even Dave_Kemp et al, these are not "experts", they are enthusiasts who enjoy their hobby, but also enjoy throwing their ego about too. I do admit that particularly in newspapers or on television quite a number of times whether it is zoological or otherwise (of a more general political or newsworthy nature) that these so-called "experts" seem to pop up out of the woodwork. They have a nasty habit of being almost religious in their beliefs, relishing in the attention given to them. Alas they tend to be somewhat unreliable and unscientific, both in outlook and comment.

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  • Dave_Kemp  |  February 02 2012, 6:54PM

    It is very easy to throw your weighty ego about, just like toys you swing and yelp out when others have their say." Mirror mirror on the wall ........

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  • Dave_Kemp  |  February 02 2012, 6:43PM

    So sayeth our Resident Wildlife expert, doesn't know the difference between a fox and a dog. beep beep beep ....

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  • bigcatman  |  February 02 2012, 6:36PM

    There Are Seven Day's in A Week. And Seven Letters In Forgive . If We Don't Forgive. Sometimes We Think On The Last Seven Day's And Sometimes It's To Late. Tomorrow Is A New Day. The First Letter Is {F } = Friday Yeah; Or { F} Forgive Day , Which One Is It Going To Be For { You } Dave_Kemp, Andrew_Powell, Argyllbigcats, Alchemies? It is very easy to throw your weighty ego about, just like toys you swing and yelp out when others have their say. It is harder to say sorry, harder to swallow that pride and ride yourself of that chip on your shoulder. People have opinions, some moreso than others however, that does not give you the right to pass judgement, say who is wrong or worse, to cause discord through behaviours that even children know is better. So which are you? Is the letter {F} for Friday or {F} for Forgiveness, for you, or shall we keep on hearing more and more of your posts that are sadly lacking that hearty touch. Forgiveness comes from the heart, not the mind or that of the mouth or typing insults and showing poor demeanour. So which are you? TiG, is it not time to drop and end the stories of the bigcat and Frank? Now that the DNA has been dispatched to everyone and we now know that it was not from a bigcat, the deer was knocked down and natural predation has taken place. Is it not time to find other worthy stories? What say you TiG and to those mentioned herein?

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  • bigcatman  |  February 02 2012, 5:51PM

    I stand corrected Kay, Vulpine it is, my mistake...and I agree fully with you on your dogs, well said.

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  • Kay_Powell  |  February 02 2012, 5:45PM

    I've known people who owned dogs that were easily capable of taking down deer. It's far more likely that these deer were all killed by dogs, disease or motor vehicles than that there are big cats roaming our countryside. Bigcatman, canine isn't the same as vulpine.

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  • Dave_Kemp  |  February 02 2012, 4:53PM

    A great pic of a REALLY BIG CAT !!! Coo ..... what does Bigscatman think of it? Did he ever get clawed or bitten by it ? It looks dangerous to me. I'll lend him my running shoes.

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  • Mummy_Hare  |  February 02 2012, 4:46PM

    Gracing us with more intimate piccys L_U?!

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  • 2ladybugs  |  February 02 2012, 4:45PM

    @Mummy_Hare Well I have just decided to move to Australia or somewhere in between as the pictures accompanying our articles down here have either turned upside down or fallen on their sides. Add to that February is still being spelt Feburary. No it doesn't matter where you live they still don't have any proof readers.

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