WILDLIFE authorities will travel to the Blue Mountains this week in the
hope of learning more about the mystery big black cat caught on video camera.
But there will be no shoot-to-kill policy because of concerns about killing a
creature that was considered long extinct.
NSW Agriculture technical director of exotic animals Bill Atkinson said:
``This is not the time to be going out there with guns blazing. This is a
completely new thing for us and so the first priority must be to identify
exactly what it is and where it originated from.
``Only when we have identified it can we then sit down and decide the most
appropriate course of action. You cannot dismiss the possibility this could in
fact be something that was deemed to be extinct."
Panther speculation resurfaced a fortnight ago when details of a massive Blue
Mountains-based cat became public through a Freedom of Information document
request by big cat researcher Michael Moss.
The NSW Government released a series of documents that acknowledged
``something is out there". The secret files also revealed that in 1999 wildlife
officials sent an expert to track down the creature after fears it could
refocus its attention from livestock to humans including tourists. A letter
from the Minister of Agriculture's Office read: ``I would like your assistance
in providing a suitably skilled person to enable this animal to be tracked,
located and identified.
``To not to do so could bring into question Government's duty of care if
these alleged attacks happened to result in injury to a person."
Mr Atkinson yesterday played down that threat but suggested there had been a
change of thinking about just how many of the giant cats might be roaming
``Yes, there may be more than just the one," he said. ``Because this
creature has finally been caught on film, we must now take seriously all the
eyewitness accounts that have been flooding in over the past 40 years. These
types of cats don't generally live for 40 years so you must draw your own
One Grose Vale resident, who has spent the past five years compiling a
thorough database on the black cat, said she was ecstatic that film footage from
Lithgow had finally proved to the Government that ``local residents are not
``National Parks can bloody well return and finish the half-hearted job they
started a few years back," she said.
``This may be a great conversation piece in the city end of Sydney, but us
locals are the ones who have had to put up with the livestock carnage, the
marauding and the day-to-day threat."
A Lithgow resident filmed a ``black panther" last Wednesday.
Mr Atkinson admitted that finding the creature would be difficult.
He said: ``Planes go down in that region and are not recovered for days.
People get lost and want to be found but they're not traced for days, either.
``So imagine trying to track one of these creatures when it simply does not
want to be tracked.
``That's the task we face."
IT'S OUT THERE SOMEWHERE
The massive black cat filmed in a Lithgow backyard last week is not the only
creature still out there, believes Australasian Cryptozoology Research and
Investigation Centre director Rex Gilroy. ``There remains an animal in that
region which is a living remnant of the ice age marsupial cat fauna, possibly an
offshoot of the marsupial lion," he said. The thylacoleo carnifex was
Australia's largest marsupial carnivore.