Nearly 20 big cats have been reported to police over the last 10 years in Angus, new figures have revealed.
Since June 2004, members of the public have spotted a total of 19 huge felines prowling our towns, villages and countryside.
Every year, at least one big cat has been seen, including a huge 1.5 metre cat with “round-topped ears” in the Sidlaw Hills, near Piperdam, last June.
But leading Scottish big cat expert, George Redpath, based in Balmullo, Fife, reckons the figures are just the “tip of the iceberg”.
Having studied the figures and compared them to his own, George, a retired police wildlife liaison officer, says there are far more big cats in Tayside than have been recorded.
He said: “These police figures are quite simply the tip of the iceberg.
“I have been actively researching reported sightings of the big cats for years and have always recorded between 20-30 each year in Fife alone.
“I am sure that the majority of sightings are not reported, so it would be virtually impossible to estimate how many cats are in any particular area.
“I don’t think we are overrun by large numbers of big cats, but from the number of reports that I get I would have to say that there might be at least six big cats in Fife.
“Just because Tayside is much larger than Fife, I think we could guess there are double, maybe even triple the number across Tayside.”
The main reason why George believes so many big cats are roaming our region is because of the Dangerous Wild Animals Act of 1976, which made it illegal to keep untamed pets.
George added: “It was quite common to see a black panther on a lead in the 60s, but a lot of people just released them when the 1976 Act came into force.
“Having said that, there must be a few out there that have escaped from circuses or private zoos as well.”
In Tayside as a whole, there were 45 big cat sightings reported to the police between 2004 and the end of 2013.
Anyone who thinks they have spotted a big cat in Angus or beyond, is encouraged to contact George on 01334 870 026.