A JOGGER has told of the dramatic moment he came face to face with a big cat in a Wigan wood.
Miles Bellas, who was wearing a powerful head torch, was running along a public footpath just off Gathurst Road in Orrell when he found his path blocked by what he believes to have been a lynx last Saturday week at around 11pm.
He described the animal as about the size of a German Shepherd dog but with a much bigger head, light brown fur with some spotting and big paws.
He said: “I knew it was a lynx but that seemed impossible.
“I stood there motionless looking at it for a minute or two, or more. I was stunned and frightened to move.
“I was afraid to back off and I was afraid to go forward while it was not afraid. It moved like a big, confident cat.
I stood there motionless looking at it for a minute or two, or more. I was stunned and frightened to moveMiles Bellas
“I was about 30m away from it and then I got closer, to about 20m, because I thought it was a large dog and would start to bark but it didn’t, it just sort of sat like a cat, very confidently which scared me, I needed to get past.”
“It got about 15m before I screamed at it, in complete fear and desperation.”
The man, who says he is familiar with big cat species, said it’s eyes were big, green in colour and slightly slanted.
He said: “The whole incident lasted about two or three minutes in total. After I ran away another person randomly walking the path, a teenager, said he saw it too. He might have seen it just before it retreated into the bushes.
“It was a very frightening and unusual experience and I felt I should warn people. I am going to jog the long way now.
“I was frightened to death.”
But Graham Workman, biodiversity manager for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT), believes it is unlikely that it was a lynx the man spotted.
“We get reports every year that someone has seen a black leopard and it turns out to have been a large tom cat,” he said.
“There have been some released into the wild recently but I don’t think here would be one of the places they would choose. I would be absolutely amazed.
“There is a possibility that someone had been keeping it as a pet and released it into the wild but if that was the case they would have to have a licence and last time I checked no one did.”
If it had been a lynx that Mr Bellas saw, it wouldn’t be the first time there have been big cat scares in Wigan.
Back in 2002 Abram was living in fear and children kept indoors after what was described as a black puma-type cat was spotted on several occasions and livestock were found savaged to death.