A Wildlife expert has confirmed that last week’s ‘sighting’ of the beast of Trowbridge was a hoax. 

Pensioner ‘Herbert Smith’ claimed that he took a picture of an animal, described as being either a puma or a panther, when walking with his wife ‘Doreen’ in Murhill Woods on Saturday, August 8.

The story featured in most national newspapers with the image later being proven to have been taken in Michigan, America, in 2007.

Danny Nineham is a big cat consultant, who travels the country helping farmers and land owners who believe they’ve spotted wild animals, and he is angry with the prank.

Mr Nineham, who is based in Gloucestershire, said: “It is sad to see people do pranks like this. When I first saw the picture I had my doubts about it as I can’t believe a pensioner would have got that close to the animal and it just look up for a second and then carry on eating.

“I know people thrive on stuff like this during the silly season but there needs to be an accepted level of trust between people. Unfortunately, the internet makes pranks like this all the more common and when someone does this it is a little soul-destroying as my work is genuine.”