The Black Beast of OssettMonday 14th August 2000, West Yorkshire
IT'S WET AND MUGGY this morning, which suits the slugs. Two brown ones, the size of small cigar butts, are making slow, imperceptibly slow, progress across the drive. I'm about to back the car out, so I pick them up and bob them into the flower bed. The second one immediately curls up to cling close to my finger, so that I can't shake it off. I have to push it away, and I'm left with slime on my finger.
A Comma is the only butterfly I see on a large white-flowered Buddleia bush by the canal basin.
James, a boy who lives across the road, is keen to tell me about an unusual wildlife siting;
'You're interested in the 'Beast of Ossett' aren't you? Well, we've seen it again, just over there in the field by the wood. It was big and black and it stopped and looked at us, but when my Dad went back with the camera it had gone. We've seen it in the same place twice now, in the evening.'
That makes five people who claim to have seen it recently. It is reputed to resemble a black panther. There have been reports all around the Ossett area for some years, and even a photograph that was published in the national papers.
I tell James that I wonder if it will still be there as someone has been shooting pigeons all afternoon. I later hear that when two lads who were shooting close to the path were asked what they were doing they claimed that they were shooting to try and flush out the beast.
This must a new form of animal tracking that I haven't come across before; simply make a loud noise and wait to see what comes out. Unfortunately it's no laughing matter if you need to use the footpath in the school holidays. I read of a 15 year old boy in Scotland who sadly was accidentally shot in the head and killed by his stepbrother when they were out rabbiting.
Related LinkFar Shore's Cryptozoology News has the latest on sitings of unidentified creatures throughout the world, including at the time of writing, a report from the Huddersfield Daily Examiner dated 23 June 2000, of a similar animal which has been seen on several occasions during the last twelve months around Denby Dale, just 6 miles across open country from here.
'One witness, who saw the animal try to pounce on bantam hens, said it was a large animal, with a head as big as a human head.'
I've printed out a copy for James.