Astonishing footage shows a suspected puma sprinting through fields after killing a chicken in what has been hailed as some of the best evidence yet of a big cat prowling the British countryside.
Chris Bebbington, 46, and his wife Wendy, 48, captured the mystery beast on their CCTV cameras by chance as they tended to their garden in Frodsham, Cheshire.
The unsuspecting couple were just metres away from the large black cat as it passed through their paddock at incredible speed early on March 18.
Father-of-one Chris became suspicious after discovering a dead chicken in the paddock so watched the recording back on his Ring security camera.
And he was left gobsmacked after spotting the panther-like creature stalking through the grass with a chicken carcass in its jaws at the rear of their property.
The large animal can be seen dropping the dead chicken onto the grass as it skulks along with cat-like movements before quickly dashing out of sight.
Chris and Wendy Bebbington caught the large black cat-type creature (circled) carrying a chicken carcass on camera when they were in the garden of their Cheshire home last month
The video is the latest in a series of big cat sightings in Cheshire amid police reports of sheep being butchered by a ‘large predator’.
Puma Watch North Wales, which investigates big cat sightings, said the video was ‘one of the best’ they had ever had.
Chris, who works in the energy industry, and lives with Wendy, a children’s nurse, said: ‘I’d come back from dropping my lad off at school and looked out of the window over the back garden into the paddock.
‘I saw the body of a chicken which had been left in the middle of the paddock. It had a hole in it but the rest of it was intact.
‘I thought that was interesting because foxes are usually more destructive.
‘We have got a Ring security camera and decided to have a look to see if it had picked anything up.
The latest string of ‘Puma sightings’ reported in Cheshire
Chris says he sent the footage to puma watch group after his neighbours lost several chickens
‘I’d been out in the garden with my wife tending to the rabbits at 6:20am.
‘I looked closely at the footage focusing on the area where the chicken body was found and saw this animal carrying it then suddenly drop it.
‘It looked black, whatever it was. It looked big and it moved fast. It was quite a long way away, but I’d say it was the size of a Labrador or something like that.
‘I was intrigued by the way it moved across, went slowly, stopped and then goes really quite quickly.
‘The clarity of the footage is not that good, but you can tell it is very large because of the size it looks from 60m away.
‘We had no idea at the time it was there at all, let alone that close to us.
The large creature (centre) appeared to drop the chicken carcass before sprinting off camera
‘I thought I’d send the video to Puma Watch because there have been sightings in the area.
‘The guy from the group was excited because of how it moved and said it’s one of the best clips they’ve had,
‘Apparently it moved in the way cats like panthers and big cats do. But I’m not a wildlife expert myself.
‘Another reason I sent it in was that our neighbours lost seven chickens in three nights around the time of this sighting.
‘Farmers have had 12 sheep savaged about four to five miles from where we live and police said they were attacked by a large predator.
‘I’m not worried myself. Like most large animals it is probably more scared of us than we are of it.
‘That’s why it ran off when we must’ve disturbed it but its certainly not something you see every day in your back garden.’
Tony Jones, who runs Puma Watch North Wales, said: ‘Multiple sightings have also occurred in Chester in recent months, including when a similar animal was caught on camera in Chester Meadows and when one animal was spotted twice in the same night behind Asda.’
In January, Cheshire police confirmed they are investigating triple sheep killing in Winsford
Earlier this year, Cheshire Police confirmed they were investigating sheep killings in the Winsford district of the region.
One sheep and two lambs were killed near the farmhouse and police said the rest of the flock were unharmed, describing the case as involving ‘very unusual elements’.
It is believed the force were investigating whether a ‘large predator’ was responsible for the deaths.
Meanwhile, in December, another Cheshire farmer in Macclesfield reported the deaths of a number of sheep.
Officers visited the farm on December 30, and spoke to the farmer, who it is understood told them of past sightings of what looked like a big cat in the area.
Six of the livestock had died and four had been seriously injured and had to be put to sleep.
That same month, Cheshire Police also released images of 30 sheep that were killed in fields near the small village of Utkinton, Cheshire, between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Tony added: ‘Big cats such as pumas are solitary with a hunting range of dozens of miles.
In December, police released images of 30 sheep that were also killed in fields near the small village of Utkinton, Cheshire, between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (pictured)
‘They’re mostly spotted in Snowdonia and the Clwydian hills but reports of sightings in urban locations some distance from these areas are becoming more frequent.
‘As seen with Llandundo’s now-famous goats, who have taken to roaming the town’s deserted streets during the coronavirus lockdowns, it’s likely that the reduced levels of human activity over the last year is encouraging big cats to roam further from the hills into more populated areas.
‘When big cats were banned as pets in the 1970s, it was legal to release them into the countryside to avoid expensive rehoming costs.
‘Owners from across the UK travelled to areas like Wales to release their cats in the remote environment, where small but significant populations have thrived ever since.’