Three friends fishing off the coast of Wales had the shock of their lives when they spotted a "very large cat" prowling just metres away.
The trio reported coming face-to-face with what they believe to be a puma while parking their cars at Gimblet Rock in Pwllheli, North Wales Live reports.
Paul Wilson, Paul Owen and Patrick Owen noticed the “brown or tawny” animal near the rocky outcrop at the end of the town’s beach.
Two days later they reported it to Puma Watch North Wales, who say that this is the first ever reported sighting of a big cat on the Llyn Peninsula.
Puma Watch said that it is likely that the reduced levels of human activity during the pandemic has encouraging big cats to roam further from the hills into more populated areas such as this one.
A BBC study recently collated more than 100 big cat sightings in 18 months across North and Mid Wales.
Speaking of the sighting back in March, Paul Wilson told Puma Watch: “Myself and two friends had turned up to do night fishing.
"We had just parked our cars when we noticed what at first appeared to be a dog of medium to large size sat upright watching us at approximately 20 metres from us.
“It was sat amongst the dune grass which was on a slope going upwards away from us. I walked a few metres towards it whilst my friend turned his headlights on to illuminate it more.
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“We all then realised that it was not a dog but a very large cat that then stood up and turned away and loped away from us turning its head to look back once at us. We didn’t see it again. The cat was as big as a golden retriever.”
Puma Watch have had multiple reports of pumas in sand dunes from across North Wales.
Big cats such as pumas are solitary with a hunting range of dozens of miles.
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They’re mostly spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian hills but reports of sightings in urban locations some distance from these areas are becoming more frequent.
When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs.
Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since.
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