The area has long been the scene for myths that a big cat is roaming the countryside, and the new deaths have stoked fears that the cat has struck again.

The mutilated carcasses of the sheep were found in fields about two miles apart, the bodies now but a mass of wool and bones. It is thought that this is not the work of a dog or fox. 

“The whole area just stank of dead animals and was quite sickening,” said Mark Davey, who discovered the massacred animals. 

“I could see that the inside of the animals had been ripped out and body parts were lying all around.

“I thought it could have been foxes or badgers but it was just the increasing number of dead sheep that started the alarm bells ringing in my head.

“As we walked further we saw several more sheep scattered closely together, again as though some large animal had attacked them.

Rumours of the beast’s existence have been in circulation since he 1970s. Twelve sheep were found mutilated in 1981, with several continuing through the Nineties, along with several ‘sightings’ of a ‘puma-like creature’. 

Photo: Getty.

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