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Legendary Beast of Exmoor Possibly Photographed in Devon

Even if your dog is a trained attack canine, that last thing you want to meet on your morning walk is a cat whose nickname is “beast.” That seem to be a common occurrence in the UK, with the latest encounter being between a fog walker near Brayford in Devon and the legendary Beast of Exmoor – an alien big cat with a reputation for leaping high fences and killing large numbers of sheep by ripping out their throats. Before you sneer and apply your favorite expression of disbelief, the incident was captured by a wildlife photographer at a distance of just 200 yards.

Closeup of a big black cat for comparison purposes.

“Genuinely think I may have seen a #BigCat on #Exmoor today. I’ll put the cropped photo in the comments. It moved cat like, was running towards a wooded area, and I think it was a big cat, but may be wrong given the unlikelihood. The worst thing is, I’ll never know.”

Sam Aston posted his photo (see it here) on Twitter along with his account of his recent sighting in late December 2021. His report on Facebook pointed out it was “about the size of a Labrador, but ran like a cat, not a dog.” Aston apologized to those who know he’s a wildlife photographer, explaining his phone was on maximum zoom and he didn’t have his camera. However, his ten-second sighting at such close physical range has him “90%” convinced it was the alien black cat known as the Beast of Exmoor.

“During the early 80s, repeated large losses of sheep and lambs increased the notoriety of the Beast of Exmoor. In one such example, a South Molton farmer lost over 100 sheep in the space of three months, with injuries suggestive of large cat involvement. A Devon farmer found a puma skull in 2006, confirmed by the British Big Cats Society. However, the official statement by the DEFRA outlined “based on the evidence, DEFRA does not believe that there are big cats living in the wild in England.”

The tourism sight ‘The Best of Exmoor’ has a special page devoted to its beast, which it says most witnesses describe as “typically resembling a panther or puma, dark grey/tan to black” measuring “1 to 2 meters” in length and the beautiful hilly Exmoor National Park area of west Somerset and north Devon in South West England surrounding the River Exe. It’s the perfect habitat for wildlife, even though the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) disagrees with the British Big Cats Society, other big cat organizations and many witnesses across the UK who have seen what could be escaped or released pets or hybrids of such big cats that have lived in the area for decades.

Is it really wise to keep big cats as pets?

“The skeptical might well assume that sightings are much more likely to be misidentified domestic cats, dogs or deer. Certainly, livestock deaths could be attributed to wandering dogs.”

The Best of Exmoor doesn’t want to scare any tourists away, but the Beast of Exmoor has been linked to sheep killings, which could be due to dogs or other smaller wild animals or to cruel humans using them for rituals. Some even suggest the UK big cats are themselves demonic. The British government no longer sends out military sharpshooters to Exmoor to hunt the beast, but the ‘official’ denials do nothing to dampen those who believe in the legendary Beast of Exmoor.

Did any question the dog?

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Paul Seaburn is the editor at Mysterious Universe and its most prolific writer. He’s written for TV shows such as "The Tonight Show", "Politically Incorrect" and an award-winning children’s program. He's been published in “The New York Times" and "Huffington Post” and has co-authored numerous collections of trivia, puzzles and humor. His “What in the World!” podcast is a fun look at the latest weird and paranormal news, strange sports stories and odd trivia. Paul likes to add a bit of humor to each MU post he crafts. After all, the mysterious doesn't always have to be serious.
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