A MYSTERY big cat spotted near Holmfirth last month could have made its way on to Saddleworth moors.
Three weeks ago an Alsatian-sized black cat, thought to be a panther by experts, was spotted in remote fields near Hade Edge.
Residents of Dunford Road saw the muscular feline, with a swishing tail, stalking through a field.
Other sightings have occurred in the past six months at Dunford Road, Winscar and on the South Yorkshire borders.
Now there have been several sightings near Dovestone, Greenfield and Saddleworth.
A Greenfield farmer spotted the animal and tried to shoot it when it attacked his sheep.
He said the creature was dark with large orange eyes and he thought he may have hit it with gunshot.
The RSPCA alerted police in Oldham last week after receiving reports of sightings while filming for a BBC programme was taking police above Dovestone, near Intake Lane.
The RSPCA sent an inspector to the moors at Greenfield and spoke to a big-cat society member, but only about the animal's welfare.
They have not searched the moor for the beast.
Police in Oldham are concerned that the animal may be more dangerous if it is injured.
Their fears were prompted after an anonymous call by a woman to a big-cat monitoring society, claiming her son had shot the animal while out poaching.
A shooting magazine has now offered a £1,000 reward for evidence the cat exists.
Oldham Police are warning people not to roam the moors looking for the cat.
Oldham Police wildlife officer, Sgt Julie Bailey, said: "The last thing we want is people roaming the moors above Dovestone taking shots at a big cat which, if it is there, will be even more dangerous because it is wounded.
"If we have got a big cat above Greenfield we don't want people wandering around hunting it.
"This is an area for recreation walking and we don't want posses with firearms there."
She said she was appalled by the idea of a reward for finding the cat.
Big cats are believed by some experts to have bred after many were released into the wild following the Dangerous Animals Act in 1976.
Panthers can grow up to a metre in length, stand up to 76cm tall and weigh up to 91kg.
They can cover 60 or 70 miles of countryside in a day.