29 April 2024

Big Cat loose on Willans Hill? There have been signs

| Chris Roe
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Signs warning of a big cat on the loose have appeared around Wagga. Photo: Chris Roe.

Walkers on Willans Hill on the weekend were surprised to encounter a series of signs warning them to beware of “big cats”.

The yellow warning signs have been fixed to trees at the entrances to several popular fire trails. They bear the official City of Wagga Wagga Council logo, which features a crow and the river.

”Warning!” They declare above a silhouette of a panther-like feline.

”Big cat sighted in the area proceed with caution.”

The warning signs have been placed on Willans Hill fire trails. Photo: Chris Roe.

The appearance of the signs comes several weeks after a post on the Wagga Wagga Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Facebook page alleging that a large cat had been seen roaming the hill.

”Thumbs down to the BIG black Panther/cat I saw on Willans Hill. Nearly killed me before I got to my car. Size of 2 dogs,” the post reads, attracting plenty of attention and comments.

Comments on Facebook last month described an encounter. Photo: Facebook.

The history of big cat sightings across Australia dates back to the mid-20th Century, with the Blue Mountains Panther or Lithgow Panther being the best known.

There have been hundreds of reported sightings over the last few decades. Believers speculate that the beast may have escaped a zoo or circus or may have been an American military mascot.

Video and photos of large black cats slinking through the Aussie bush emerge regularly, sparking a fresh round of “expert” commentary and analysis.

The image fragmentation suggests that the signs are not official. Photo: Chris Roe.

In this case, sad to say, it appears to be a certified hoax.

While the signs are professionally printed on corflutes of various dimensions, close inspection reveals image fragmentation, suggesting a cut and paste of the council logo and a low-resolution file.

It is also worth noting that each sign has been affixed to the tree with as many as nine thick tek screws that will do serious damage to the tree and would never be sanctioned by Council.

When asked for comment, a WWCC spokesperson said: “Council is aware of the signs erected on trees on Willans Hill with the City of Wagga Wagga logo claiming the presence of a ‘big cat’.

“Council staff will attend and remove the signs that have been screwed into trees.

“Council zoo staff have confirmed that we don’t have any big cats, and all animals are accounted for.

“Staff are disappointed in the damage to the trees and encourage the community to respect our local biodiversity.”

So there you have it. No big cats, after all.

Still, anything is possible, so perhaps you should keep your eyes peeled if you venture into the wilds of Willans Hill.

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