ONE of television’s most respected wildlife experts has added weight to the theory that big cats may be roaming the South Lakeland countryside.

BBC Springwatch pres-enter Chris Packham said the fact that the vast majority of wild animals tried avoiding contact with humans – making them ‘almost impossible’ to find – was one of the reasons big cats could be at large.

It follows two sightings of a jet black cat the size of a labrador on Scout Scar in recent weeks and dozens of others across South Lake-land over the last decade.

Mr Packham said: “I have it on good authority that a lynx lived in woods in the outskirts of Southampton for several years.

“No one ever saw it – but I know from a trusted source that its footprints were regularly found.”

He added: “There is no doubt these creatures could survive in the UK. They have food, an ideal habitat and, surprisingly enough, even ample space.”

He was writing in a national newspaper using the recent sighting on Scout Scar by runners Angela Jones and Eve Grayson – as reported in The Westmorland Gazette – as the basis of his article.