By NOEL MURPHY
A TASMANIAN tiger sighting has been reported at Apollo Bay, bolstering investigators’ claims the thylacine has escaped extinction and is living in the Otway Ranges.
Big Cats Victoria’s John Turner said the claim by three girls holidaying on Apollo Bay’s western edge helped corroborate other sightings of a striped, wolf-like creature in the district.
“It came out of the scrub where a bush track was going into the bush,” Mr Turner told the Independent.
“It just came out and casually walked across the road. They watched it from a second-storey window for about a minute – all the girls had a good look at it.’’
Mr Turner said the sighting was reported last summer to his Big Cats Victoria website but was in line with recent sightings at Freshwater Creek.
The Independent last month reported that an Ocean Grove couple claimed to have seen a large animal with a hyena gait, wolfish head and strange colouring on Anglesea Rd close to Blackgate Rd a fortnight ago.
Melbourne woman Amanda Ketteridge has since reported seeing a similar animal near Anglesea.
“If it wasn’t for the fact Tasmanian tigers are extinct I’d think I just saw one,” Ms Ketteridge wrote to the Independent.
A Mount Moriac farming couple last week reported strange sheep killings, with heads mauled and tongues eaten.
The couple told big-cat hunter Michael Moss they also saw a panther at Mount Moriac five years ago and again on Barrabool Rd two years later.
Mr Moss told the Independent sightings of Tasmanian tigers had been recorded as far back as the 1930s.
Freshwater Creek farmer Harry Cook has claimed sighting Tasmanian tigers several times, including in the past month.
Mr Turner said thylacine sightings had been reported across the state.
“Thylacines exist, they certainly exist,” he said.
“We had a recent report from the Pyrenees where a farmer rang me and said he’d seen the weirdest thing – a dog with stripes and two tails.
“This was really interesting because a thylacine is the only marsupial with a rear-facing pouch. It obviously had a pup in the pouch head-down with its tail sticking out.”
Big cat investigator Simon Townsend said the Marengo area west of Apollo Bay produced many “interesting stories”.
“There’s an awful lot of game in the bush there,” he said.