Living near England's Dartmoor in the late 1990s, I often heard stories from locals about the "beasts" that roamed the beautifully desolate hills and stone valleys.
Some claimed the creatures were big cats, jaguars or panthers that had escaped from circuses, or private zoos. Some of the more eccentric villagers insisted that they were spectral beasts of some ancient mythology.
Occasionally there would be reports in the local newspapers, and there was an often told story about a small girl riding her bike next to a hedge close to the moors, who was snatched away by something described by a witness as a "big black shadow."
Another tale was told about a farmer who was sick of losing sheep to the "beast" and so built a fairly elaborate trap in his field one day. But the farmer, living alone, wound up caught inside the trap and spent the night out there. Sometime in the early morning, the "beast" came into his field and circled the trapped man at a distance, shrieking, eyes glowing in the moonlit. The next morning he was freed by a laughing friend. But the farmer wasn't laughing.
The latest reports of a "beast" roaming Dartmoor come from the UK Daily Mail, and come with some interesting photos, one of which is above.
Here's an excerpt from the report :
Whatever its identity, the Beast of Dartmoor is giving some farmers sleepless nights because they fear it will prey on their stock.
Falconer Martin Whitley, who photographed the creature, said: "It was walking along a path about 200 yards away from me.
"It was black and grey and comparable in size to a miniature pony. It had very thick shoulders, a long, thick tail with a blunt end and small round ears.
"Its movements appeared feline, then bear-like sprang to mind. There was a party climbing on the tor opposite making a racket but it ignored them completely."
Mr Whitley is adamant that the creature is not a wild dog.
He added: "I have worked with dogs all my life and it was definitely not that.
"I have seen a collie-sized black cat in the area about ten years ago and it was not that - this was a lot bigger.
"You would be surprised at the number of people who have seen black big cats and something resembling a small bear in the area over the course of the years."
But a possible explanation for the appearance of this monster is also included :
...the most likely explanation yesterday was that the Beast is nothing more supernatural than a large and hairy wild boar.Does that anything like a boar? Even a hairy boar?
North Devon farmer Al Dedames lost more than 100 of his stock of boar in December 2005 when animal rights activists raided his farm and destroyed fencing.
Since then, more than half are thought to have died in road traffic accidents or been shot by farmers or hunters.
But those which survived have bred and up to 175 are said to be roaming the wilds of Devon and Somerset.