THE Beast of Bolton is on the prowl once again according to fresh eye witness accounts.

The large black cat — which is rumoured to stalk the fields around Darcy Lever — was spotted by a mother and daughter near Farnworth cemetery.

Alanah Belk, aged 56, and Sherri-Lee Belk, aged 35, were walking their dogs in the fields at about 2.30pm on October 11, when they spotted a large black object lying in the grass.

“At first I thought it was a small black cat when my daughter spotted it but then it stood up and it was huge. It looked like a black panther”, said Ms Belk, who lives in Presto Street.

“We were standing about 50 feet away from it and we could see it clearly. It looked at us and turned away and ran off in the opposite direction — like we’d scared it off.

“I know it was a big cat and not a dog because it had a long black tail which curled up like a cat’s. A lot of people would laugh at us but we know what we saw.”

Ms Belk also said several other people in Farnworth contacted her through the social networking site Facebook with their sightings of the cat.

The beast was last spotted two years ago by a dog walker in Bromley Cross.

And there were “sightings”

in Harwood, Hawkshaw and Edgworth in 2009.

A spokesperson from Blackpool Zoo said it is unlikely the beast is a black panther — but could not rule it out completely.

The spokesperson added: “It is very difficult to keep wild cats nowadays because licencing laws are so strict and they have to be registered, so it would be known if one was kept in the area.

“Secondly if it was wild cat, there would be evidence in the area. For example, it would have to hunt and leave farm animal carcasses. Also it would be more likely to go to an urban area to find food and not a field.

But you never know and you can never 100 per cent rule it out.”

It is possible the beast could be a Maine Coon cat — a large domestic cat from America which has become popular in the UK.