Gloucestershire boasts some pretty unique wildlife from feral pigs to mysterious sightings of ‘large black cats,’ but now it looks like another creature is living among us. Wolves have been apparently spotted living in the Forest of Dean and wildlife explorer Frank Tunbridge is investigating.
Over the years he has been called out to numerous reports of big cat sightings but most recently he has been asked to help find wolves which are apparently living in the Forest of Dean, just outside Coleford. One day Frank had a call from a man who said that he had seen wolves out and about whilst he had been walking his Jack Russell dog. Frank said: “So I have been called to reports of wolves now living around Coleford. I met with a chap that had seen one and also his work colleague on a different day had also seen a wolf as well. “He was describing to me how he had been out walking his dog and all of a sudden a wolf had appeared on the track in front of him. I wanted to be sure that he had not confused a wolf with a husky dog so I sent him a picture.
“A husky has a very wide chest and a wolf’s chest is small, it is almost as big as a hand span width so quite small. He confirmed that it had been a wolf that he had seen. “Anyhow I went one day with my friend to the place that he had said he saw the wolf. “ It was very quiet and I think I saw one jogger and that was about it. So I said to my mate that I was going to howl and see if I got any reaction. So I clapped a bit and started howling, and would you believe it, a wolf howled back.” Franks says that a wolf would howl back to warn any other wolves from another pack, and to let them know not to come any closer as it is their territory. He said: “Well I was gobsmacked that I heard something back. It was clear as anything.” Frank is also a bit of an expert on the large cats which have been spotted in Gloucestershire. He started documenting his experiences of exotic wildlife encounters in the early 1970’s. Now he has around 10 books with his memoirs of the events.
Frank , 71 from Podsmead said: “As a child we lived in rented rooms in London after the war. We lived near Regent’s Zoo and my father used to go drinking with one of the zoo keepers there. One day my dad’s friend said that I should go to the zoo before it opens and have a look around. “It was then that I developed a real interest in nature and wildlife. “My sister Audrey who is sixteen years older than me used to visit and take me out all over the place to visit animals in different places. I loved it.”
When the Dangerous Wild Animals Act came in during 1976, many of the dangerous animals had been let out into the woods as people were not able to ensure that the animals stayed in confined locations where they were not posing a threat to other amongst other things. Frank said: “In those days in the 1960’s and 1970’s people used to keep anything. They would keep exotic animals in their houses or the grounds of where they lived. I was fascinated with the reports I read, especially the big cats and wolves. So they are out there, but they have evolved to be able to live in the wildlife surrounding and have acclimatised to their new habitats over the years.”
Frank is a firm believer in appreciating what the world has around you and taking time to appreciate nature. He said: “People should be going out there and observing the wildlife that is around us generally. Just being quiet and still and seeing what happens.“Animals can sense if you are looking for them so they are less likely to appear. Just the other day when I was out walking the dog I was by the canal and saw a Kingfisher sat on a branch and he dived in and caught a fish and swallowed it whole. “ Things like that these nature programme makers spend months collecting the footage for us to watch in our homes but honestly there is nothing like seeing it for yourself.”
Of course he has been called to other sightings.
Frank said: “One time I was called as there were reports of a big cat in Thrupp. I went up there and made myself an army mesh dig and hid out there in the wooded area of the field. “ I threw a fish and a chicken out in front of the hide out and I just sat a waited there for hours. It became dusk and then I heard a loud type purr or under the breath growl. “I thought to myself that he knew that I was there. I looked almost to my right and then I gently moved back and saw the back of it. I’ve never had the hairs on the back of my neck stand up like that before. “It took the bait and went. “Another time I was driving back home at night on the Painswick Road, and a large black cat like a panther was in the middle of the road. It rolled it’s shoulders and jumped up the bank and went on it’s way.
There are other reports that have convinced that Frank that there are also wolverines living in the countryside and lynx’s too. There have been some hoaxes as well but Frank is keen to hear from anyone that thinks that they have seen any big cats out and about in the Gloucestershire countryside. Original Source