EXPERTS have rubbished claims that a big cat has been savaging sheep in the Cheshire countryside.
Examination of the bodies has revealed dogs or foxes are responsible for the attacks.
Rumours of a 'Pulford Panther' grew following two reports to the police of sightings of a big black cat that looked like a puma or panther following the attacks.
The police were alerted when they received a call to say that a pest control expert had been called to a farm in Dodleston Lane following reports that a large predator had been killing sheep.
A spokesman for Cheshire Constabulary, Glyn Hellam, said: 'Initial reports suggested a large cat had been seen in the area.
'However, these sightings were unconfirmed and the pest control team who contacted us initially were unable to find any trace.
'We carried out enquiries at neighbouring properties and contacted experts at Chester Zoo to seek their advice.'
Within the next 24 hours, another three sheep were killed and others were missing.
Another resident came forward to say he had seen a large cat 'about the size of a greyhound'.
Then the mystery unravelled. A sheep carcass was examined by the zoo pathologist and the animal welfare officer from Cheshire County Council, who determined it was injured by a dog or a fox.
The owner of the sheep then came forward to say that he had discovered it was dogs that caused the damage to his flock.
A spokesman for Chester Zoo said: 'We have been told that it was found to be dogs. There have been big cat sightings in the country and some do live in the wild.'