The USPCA is investigating the possiblity that two big cats could be on the loose in Co Down.
It comes after a group of walkers reported seeing two large, wild cat-type animals in the area of the Bloody Bridge in Newcastle on Monday.
Both animals were described as being about the size of a Labrador dog but with feline characteristics and black shiny coats.
A spokesman for the PSNI said: “While we would stress that the nature of any such animals which may be in the area has not yet been verified, or if any such animals are in fact dangerous, we would remind the public that if anyone does see an animal which they believe to be dangerous, they should not approach the animal. The location should be noted and police contacted immediately.”
David Wilson of the USPCA said the organisation was taking the sighting seriously.
He added: “We can’t just dismiss the sighting. The people were quite clear in what they saw. What we don’t want to do, however, is engage in scaremongering. We don’t want people going up to that area and trying to track them down.
“We do not have specific evidence that they are dangerous animals.
“There are plenty of reports of sightings all around the province but very little actual evidence, many reports are difficult to substantiate.”
In 2003, despite a massive air and land hunt, a big cat believed to have been a panther on the prowl in north Antrim was never found.