Hunt on for Beskydy Mountains 'puma'

Illustrative photo

In recent months a mysterious animal has been spotted around woodlands in the Beskydy Mountains in Moravia. More skeptical locals say it must be a dog or fox, while others believe there is evidence it is something altogether more exotic - a puma.

There have been sightings of the beast, whatever it may be, in the Beskydy Mountains and their foothills since the summer. When two sheep were killed near the town of Pribor this week tracks were found which some experts said were those of an American puma.

Local authorities fear the winter cold could make the animal desperate enough to attack humans, and have issued warnings - featuring a picture of a puma - telling people not to let their children play alone in the woods.

A wildlife protection agency has called on the regional authority to hold a meeting of its security council; they say it would be ideal to locate the beast - something winter snows should make easier - and have a team from Ostrava Zoo tranquilise it. But most likely it will be shot by local hunters. As the wildlife people point out, pumas are not protected in the Czech Republic.

Meanwhile, nobody has come forward to say their pet puma has escaped but efforts are being made to locate the owner.