You might laugh to yourself and think that it's absolutely impossible for a cougar or puma to be on the loose anywhere in Ireland, much less Cork, but the situation has now reached a stage where live traps are being set to try and catch said cougar / puma / big cat.
The story kicked off over the weekend when a number of reports were made to the Cork Society of Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals - the CSPCA, because we're not typing that out again - about sightings of a possible cougar / puma / who knows what in the Fountainstown and Crosshaven, which is about 20 minutes outside of Cork according to a Corkonian who works in our office.
Speaking to Morning Ireland on Radio 1 this morning, Vincent Cashman of the CSPCA explained that they have "set up some trail cameras in the places the animal has been seen previously so we can try and track the animal and get an ID on it," but added that while it may sound incredible and possibly even ridiculous, the reports the CPSCA claimed that the reports they've received from "landowners and people are credible and worthy of further investigation."
Cougars, also known as pumas, are considered to be a generalist predator and will eat pretty much anything they can their paws on, tending to work more on ambushes than scavenging. Fatal attacks on humans are rare, but are increasing more in North America. In May of this year, a man was attacked and died in Washington, the first recorded human death from a cougar attack in 90 years in the state.
Mountain lions have returned to Turkey, however cougars generally are not considered to be native to Europe and certainly not Ireland, so it'll be interesting to see exactly how a cougar / puma / big cat ended up in Cork of all places. It's not even the first time a giant cat has escaped and gone in the run in rural Ireland.
Back in 2017, a giant black panther went on the run in Newry and the PSNI were even called in to hunt the thing. That particular panther running wild, however, was attributed to a circus animal or possibly even an exotic animal enclosure escape. Although no black panther was found at the time, Army sharpshooters were even brought in to try and pinpoint the animal's location. Not only that, Cork Airport recently sighted a rare coatimundi in June of this year, so clearly exotic animals are a thing in Cork.
As it stands, there's no word yet if the cougar has been tracked or sighted on camera.