Resident sightings point to presence of big cats like panthers, cougars in Perth hills

Mike Griffiths Picture: Bruce Hunt   d478697
Mike Griffiths Picture: Bruce Hunt d478697

MYSTERIOUS sightings of large black cats prowling the Perth Hills have resurfaced after a resident claimed to have seen one of the elusive beasts in Chidlow earlier this month.

Mt Helena resident Lisa Speyer said she was picking up her son when she saw the big black cat.

“I’m not talking about a domestic size cat, I’m talking about panther size. It moved differently to a dog, was crouched like a cat and had distinctive eyes,” she said.

“In 43 years in the Hills, I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The sighting prompted other residents to share their own glimpses of big cats in the region.

Swan Valley resident Vanessa Rickman said she saw a large black animal on Toodyay Road near Morangup.

“A massive black panther type cat appeared near a tree along the edge of a dam. It was huge; we’ve never moved so fast,” she said.

Boya resident Nigel Goodman said his wife saw a black cat attack their pet cat late last year.

“Our cat had the scars to prove it. My wife was just 5m away from the animal, which she described as sleek and 80cm long, excluding its tail,” he said.

“In the Yorkshire Moors in England, there are many reports of large cats but in my nine years living here, I’ve never heard of such large cats roaming this area.”

Vaughan King, founder of the Australian Big Cat Research Group, said it was “beyond a shadow of a doubt” there were big cats in the Hills.

Mr King, who grew up in Kalamunda before working as a big cat handler at Australia Zoo in Queensland, said the Darling Scarp provided prime habitat for big cats such as cougars and panthers.

He said documented sightings pointed to a healthy, established population of cougars and panthers, and possibly black leopards, in the outer areas of Perth.

“The thick bush that covers the Hills would allow a population of big cats to live out its days relatively inconspicuously,” he said.

“It has the three main things a big cat needs to survive: prey, water and shelter.”

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