CALLS are being made for the police to take seriously reports of a big Black Cat roaming the hills above Loch Ness.
Residents believe the creature has already attacked animals and there are fears a person could be next.
Leading the campaign for action is senior Highland Councillor Margaret Davidson who believes recent incidents on the northern side of Loch Ness are credible.
The council’s unshakable housing and social work chairwoman first became aware of attacks on a dog and a lamb and has received photographs taken in the Bunloit area purporting to show large-sized paw prints.
“Then, I took it very seriously,” said Councillor Davidson, who runs Abriachan Nurseries by the side of Loch Ness.
“It seems to be a clear pattern is emerging. I have since heard tell of sighting on other hills on north Loch Ness and Glen Urquhart.”
The Aird and Loch Ness councillor continued: “I believe this is a public safety issue. The recent sightings are on a hill next to a chalet park and on the Great Glen Way.
“I believe the police need to take this similarly seriously and the animal or animals need to be captured.”
Katrina Wallace lives with husband, Jim, and their three young children at Bunloit.
The family say they are now afraid to go out at night after a series of incidents which have been reported to the police.
On one occasion, she claims her husband got a glimpse of a creature just outside the house.
“We have two black labradors and he thought it was one of those but then realised they were inside,” Mrs Wallace said. “He looked again and saw the animal’s tail.”
In February, one of the dogs had to be treated by the vet after being attacked one night in the garden. “The top part of its leg was grazed and the vet said it could only get an injury like that if it had been dragged.”
She also discovered a badly-mauled dead lamb which had a large puncture wound on the back of its neck while on another occasion she took photographs of large paw prints leading to the house from a nearby wooded area. “A friend of ours who does a lot of shooting and has tracked animals confirmed they are cat prints and a big one at that,” Mrs Wallace said.
She is now afraid a child could be attacked but feels some residents are reluctant to acknowledge the issue. “Nobody really wants to speak about it,” she said. “They don’t want to admit it is there.”
Northern Constabulary have told them nothing can be done without DNA evidence.
“Up until now not enough action has been taken,” said Mrs Wallace.
But a Northern Constabulary spokesman said the police do take such reports seriously. “Clearly there is a public safety issue and a welfare issue for the animal concerned,” he said.
“Where there is credible information that there may be a large animal in a specific area then we will work with our Scottish SPCA partners to try and recover it through the use of humane live traps.”