ARE big cats really running wild in Dorset? 

Despite wild cats disappearing from the south of England in the 16th century there have still been a number of sightings in recent years.

From lions to panthers and everything in between, the people of Dorset have reportedly seen big cats across the county.

Could it be a myth or are there really big cats on the prowl across our coastline?

We submitted a Freedom of Information Request to Dorset Police asking for the number of reported big cat sightings between 2018 and 2020. 

In two years there were eight big cat sightings reported to the police in Dorset, including in Dorchester, Weymouth and Poole

In March 2018 a possible lion was sighted in Chideock at 9.45pm.

Later in the year, under 'suspicious circumstances' a large cat was seen prowling the streets of Dorchester in the early morning. 

A possible panther was spotted in a road in Poole in July 2018.

In October 2018 there were two big cat sightings in the county - a large cat was seen in Weymouth and again, under 'suspicious circumstances' a large black cat was seen in the road in Sturminster Newton.

Another large cat was reportedly seen in Salisbury that October. 

In July 2019 there were two reported sightings of big cats prowling the streets of Poole - one report included a black panther sitting in a tree in the town. 

Panther in Westbourne

Bournemouth Echo:

Other sightings of big cats in the county include a 'panther' in Westbourne back in 2018. 

Bournemouth resident Chris Colledge said he was “amazed and astounded” after seeing what he believed to be a panther from his window.

He said he saw the creature on his patio where he lives on West Cliff Green at around 8.30pm on Tuesday night after it prompted his security light to turn on.

'Large black panther' near Dorchester

Bournemouth Echo:

Lorry driver Kevin Fillary spotted a Big Cat in fields off the A35

In 2013 lorry driver Kevin Fillary claimed he spotted a 'large black panther' on the prowl in a field near Monkey’s Jump roundabout.

The 42-year-old lorry driver had been travelling on the A35 from Weymouth to Bridport at around 3.30pm when he spotted the mysterious creature.

Have you ever spotted a big cat in Dorset?  Let us know in the comments.