Paw prints, apparently from a big cat, have been found in a garden in Cornwall, following a report of a “possible panther” attacking a dog.
Police were told about the incident in Harrowbarrow, Cornwall, on 29 March and called in the RSPCA.
Police said a resident “claimed that a panther had been in their garden and attacked their dog, and was later seen with another animal in its mouth”.
The RSPCA took a cast of a paw print which was “the pad of a large cat”.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesperson said: “Police have received a single report of a big cat sighting in the Callington area.
“An officer attended the property and located the footprints in the garden.
“We called the RSPCA for advice and took a cast of the print which they confirmed was the pad of a large cat.”
The police moved to reassure the public, saying: “Over the years, there have been a number of similar reports across Devon and Cornwall.
“There is no evidence that such animals represent a danger to humans.
“It is highly likely that they would avoid human contact and only represent a danger if trapped.
“If any animal is sighted it should not be approached.”
The RSPCA said: “Our officer attended after reports that a Labrador had been scratched by a large, black cat.
“Thankfully, the dog is fine although he has scratch marks, and the owner is taking precautions to keep an eye on the dog in case of further sightings.”
In the 1990s, there was a spate of big cat sightings reported on Bodmin Moor, about 10 miles from Harrowbarrow.
This caused the government to call in investigators to search for the creature which became known as the “beast of Bodmin”.
There have also been more recent reports of big cats in Cornwall and Devon.
A Freedom of Information request last year revealed that Devon and Cornwall Police have been called 55 times since the start of 2011 to sightings of big cats in the wild.