Re the skull and tracks on this thread. Bushwhacker has also recieved an amazing email from an expert. I'm not going to publish it as it was in a PM, but I hope he will post the info on this thread as it makes excellent reading.
This is the e-mail I received.
I am sending along what Bill Taylor, our president, said about your photos.
“That skull seems to be about 3.25 inches wide and 5..5 inches (14 centimeters) long. My copy of Young and Goldman includes skull lengths for a lot of cougars, and the rough average length is about 8.3 inches (21 cm) for U.S. males and about 7.5 inches (19 cm) for U.S. females.”
“In other words, the British skull is too small for an adult North American cougar. But it is obviously too big for a domestic cat. So maybe it came from a subadult cougar or one of those intermediate size cats like an ocelot, jagurundi, caracal, or lynx. While the track photos don't show enough heel pad detail, they seem to be about 7 centimeters or slightly under 3 inches in diameter. Again, this is smallish for an adult cougar but way too large for a domestic cat.”
“Britain apparently has a few big cats in several regions, and has big cat organizations, watches, and newsletters. The assumption is that private owners released some cougars, black leopards, and Eurasian lynxes, and that the former two are breeding and maybe even interbreeding. The link at http://www.britishbigcats.org/news.php states that a skull found near Devon in southwestern England was positively identified a cougar in 2005. And the homepage of the British Big Cats Society at: http://www.britishbigcats.org/sightings.php includes more information. Scotland reportedly has a small natural population of European wildcats that are slightly larger and considerable more furry than domestic cats.”
Also, Dr. Pat Rusz believes it is closer to a bobcat or lynx in size. If you do not have many bobcats in your area he believes it is most likely a lynx. But the age he said was probably older. That is because the teeth are not as sharp as they should be for a younger cat.
Dennis also believes that this is a smaller wild cat and older as well, because of the teeth.
I am not sure what your animal laws are on owning wild cats but it could be a more exotic animal brought in and placed in a private collection.
I hope this helps you. I had a lot of fun looking at these photos and so did everyone else that saw them: Dennis, Pat and Bill. Thank you for bringing them to our attention.
Do you mind if I use the photos for a blog post or a Facebook post?
Michigan Wildlife Conservancy