RESIDENTS have raised the alarm over fears that big cats could be roaming the fields of South Cheshire.
A number of sightings have been reported of the supposed 'alien felines' despite the official view that they do not exist in Britain.
A picture, taken earlier this month by a resident in Betchton Road at Sandbach, who has asked not to be named, shows what could be a big cat on the prowl on farmland at the rear of her home.
A number of people in the road have reported sightings and are convinced that the cats are real.
All the sightings suggest the animal is a large black feline which is about the same size as a dog.
Between April 2004 and July last year the British Big Cat Society reported 27 sightings of big cats in Cheshire and more than 2,000 nationwide.
Despite this, the Government's Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says it has no evidence of breeding big cats in Britain.
Marjorie Harding, of Betchton Road, said: 'I have seen one and it was quite a big-sized black cat.
'I was taking my dog for a walk at the back of the house when I saw it. I'm used to seeing animals but I have never seen anything like that before.'
Neighbour John Eeles said: 'I have seen a big cat at the back for sure. There are quite a few people who have said they have seen them. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it was true.'
Jillian Alcock, also a Betchton Road resident, added: 'I know what I saw and it was a big cat. There are a few of us who have seen them.
'They are big like a dog, like the size of a Doberman. I have seen them a few times now and I know my neighbours have.'
The latest report from the British Big Cats Society not only reveals startling new evidence for big cats in Britain, but also that the numbers roaming our countryside could be increasing.
There are claims that some are panthers which have been released into the wild.
* Have you seen a big cat in South Cheshire? If so, please let us know.
You can phone Bobbie Hough on 01270 502432, e-mail him at email@example.com, write to The Chronicle, 32-34 Victoria Street, Crewe CW1 2JE, or fax on 01270 502439.