THERE are almost certainly no pumas, leopards, jaguars or cougars roaming regional Victoria, a state government study has found.
While the report author says it is impossible to prove something doesn’t exist, his survey of about a century’s worth of anecdotal evidence alleging big cats exist in Victoria has concluded it is highly unlikely.
“We can’t say 100 per cent there are no big cats in Victoria but we can say it is highly unlikely,” Department of Sustainability of Environment zoologist Peter Menkhorst said yesterday. Mr Menkhorst examined more than 1000 pieces of data, including anecdotal reports collected by community groups and the government. Among those reports were alleged sightings from the Otways and the Grampians.
He said instances where people had blamed the mauling of livestock or other wildlife on a big cat pointed to a lack of understanding of how known predators behaved.
“It probably is dogs or foxes or pigs or known predators,” Mr Menkhorst said.
Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh said the study concluded the most obvious explanation for the reported sightings of big cats over the years was that they were large, feral cats.