A BIG wild cat is on the prowl, according to Kirkheaton residents.
The mysterious animal - described as being about the size of a lynx - has been spotted twice in the last month in the Kirkheaton area.
Market gardener Jim Gibb, of Cockley Hill Lane, Kirkheaton, said he was 99% sure that the slinky beast was a kind of big wild cat, like a lynx.
He saw it in his garden which looks out across acres of open farmland.
He described it as 2ft high at the shoulders, with a sleek, muscular body and light sandy fur.
Mr Gibb, who was in his kitchen at the time, had a good look at the cat, which was lit by nearby street lighting. It was before dawn.
The cat then "slunk off".
Earlier this month, Darren Green, of Town Road, and his girlfriend Claire Hirst saw a similar creature in an allotment next to his back garden.
This too was seen very early in the morning.
Mr Green said that a neighbour later found a dead fox in the same allotment with scratch marks on his neck.
Huddersfield police officers were told about the first sighting.
Chief Insp Chris Hardern, of Huddersfield Police, said: "We have had a report from someone who thought he saw a big cat so we are aware of it. But we have not been told of any further sightings since."
Sightings of so-called wild cats are not unknown in the Huddersfield area.
In early summer 2000, police received many calls from residents in Denby Dale describing a mystery beast.
This one was thought to be black and coincided with a number of lambs being killed.
Denby Dale postmaster John Radley said it looked like "a long, black cat but not as big as a puma".
Farmers who had animals killed said they had claw marks on them.
Heather Holmes, RSPCA spokeswoman for West Yorkshire, urged anyone who saw a wild cat to ring them with a detailed description of the animal and the circumstances of the sighting.
"Eight times out of 10 from the description we know it is not a wild animal," she said.
"There are some big cats in the wild who are descended from animals who were let loose after the 1976 Dangerous Wild Animals Act came in.
"Some people who did not wish to apply for a licence set them free.
Phone the RSPCA on 08705 555999. The call is charged at local rates.