The Cairns Post
BUSHLAND near Cooktown may be home to a big cat.
Oakey Creek resident John Merry has made plaster casts of large paw prints
of the mystery beast.
Mr Merry, who is regarded as a rational man, said he saw a large
black-and-tan animal twice in two days recently near a dam wall on a remote
Intrigued, Mr Merry was determined to gather evidence to prove that what he
saw was no illusion.
He described the mystery beast to Cooktown locals as "3m long, including a
curved tail, and about 1.2m high" with big, long legs.
The paw prints measured 10cm by 7.5cm.
Mr Merry said what he saw was definitely a feline, and too big to be a large
dog. Both times he saw the beast at 8am and the first time he was able to
observe it for a few minutes before it disappeared into the bush.
Cooktown pastor Wayne Brennan, who described Mr Merry as a very level-headed
man, said he too had seen a mysterious animal last year.
He said he was driving the school bus towards Rossville when he saw the
animal walk on to the road about 500m away.
"It turned it's head and looked directly at me before it ran off," he said.
"The way it bounded and leapt over the fringe of grass - its movements were
Pastor Brennan said that animal was "pure black" in colour.
Cook Shire chief executive officer Mark Pitt examined the plaster cast and
said if it was from a cat it was much bigger and heavier than any feral cat.
"It is not inconceivable that it's from a panther," he said.
"John said he saw something and what he saw is debatable. But it left a very
big pad size."Mr Pitt contacted "big cat" authority and author on suspected panther
sightings Prof John Henry, from Victoria's Deakin University.
Prof Henry, who has seen a photograph of the cast, said there was strong
evidence panthers may exist in remote parts of Victoria and the possibility
could not be ruled out in the Cooktown sighting.