TRACKS in the snow at the sight of an encounter with a mystery beast has led to speculation about what could have made them - with the suspects narrowed down to a large dog, big cat or....a wolf!

The large paw prints were spotted by cafe owner Robert Kardziz at the same location in Pentre Halkyn where he says he was confronted by a creature three months ago.

On Saturday, Robert and his son saw large paw prints in the snow showing the path a large creature made across the yard of his cafe, Billie Jeans.

Robert said: "If hey are made by a dog, it's a big dog! My feet are size nine.

"There is definitely something around this area as there have been a lot of recent sightings."

Having encountered a mystery beast in October last year, Robert thought the tracks could have been left by the same animal.

The Leader: The 'big cat' was sighted behind Billie Jeans in Pentre Halkyn. Photo: Robert Kardzis.The 'big cat' was sighted behind Billie Jeans in Pentre Halkyn. Photo: Robert Kardzis.

Billie Jeans in Pentre Halkyn

Then he told the Leader: "I thought what the hell is that? I couldn't tell exactly what it was, but it wasn't a badger and it definitely wasn't a dog. It made some odd noise and ran off - it jumped over the fence and there's quite a big drop on the other side. There were cattle in the field and they scattered.

"It was quite dark, it almost had the outline of a black lab or something like that, but the noise it made was a screech, it wasn't a dog.

"It was so quick, that I don't want to say it's this colour or that colour, but we did see something."

Robert, who moved to Flintshire with his family about 15 years ago, says he believes their is a big cat in the area as he saw one near Halkyn Quarry a few years ago.

However, big cat expert Frank Tunbridge says the tracks do not look like they were made by a big cat.

The Leader: Footprints in the snow. Image: Sophie Van NesteFootprints in the snow. Image: Sophie Van Neste

Footprints in the snow in Rhiwlas. Image: Sophie Van Neste

He says they were most likely made by a big dog - or even a wolf as there were no human footprints alongside the tracks (those in the photograph were left by Robert and his son).

Frank says the wolf theory is not as far-fetched as it sounds as they, along with big cats and other exotic pets, are believed to have been released into the countryside in the UK in the 1970s.

He said: "It's a conundrum. They have more similarities with a wolf track than a big cat. They are too oval and symmetrical to be a big cat, plus blunt claws point to a canid. It's a pity I can't see the rest of the trail it left in the photograph, as dogs tend to wander while wild animals walk straight with usually a direct register of their prints."

Frank added that the often-held belief that prints with claw marks are always made by a canine, as cats have retractable claws, can be misleading. He said cats will often pop their claws out to gain purchase on icy terrain.

Similar tracks have been spotted in Rhiwlas, near Bangor, during the snowy weather and, more recently, in Dyserth.

The Leader: Paw prints in Dyserth.Paw prints in Dyserth.

Paw prints in Dyserth

However, the mystery in Dyserth was solved when the owner of George the 70kg Great Dane said their mammoth dog was responsible.

They said: "This is my boy who is three and those paw prints are his in the snow yesterday.

"George is almost 70kg and is often likened to a puma."

Since the Leader reported Robert's experience in October, there have been several reports of sightings of big cats - both recent and historical.

Puma Watch North Wales is a group set up to document and investigate big cat sightings and, in the last few months, they have received reports of sightings in Abergele, Chester, Connah's Quay, Corwen, Llangollen, Mostyn, Penley, Pontybodkin, Rhuallt, Snowdonia and Talacre.

Tony Jones, founder of Puma Watch North Wales, believes the number of sightings points to a small population of big cats in North Wales.

He said: “There are countless accounts of sightings shared by locals, both recent and historic. It seems it’s common knowledge among many local communities that a small population of big cats such as pumas exist within North Wales.

“We believe most of those reporting sightings did indeed see pumas or cougars. Some people say they aren’t sure and it could have been something more common, though we have a Twitter account with a small established following and from the sightings reported to us, it’s clear many are seriously and genuinely concerned.

“When exotic pets were banned in the 1970’s, many owners released them into the wild. It was completely legal to do this for several years until another law was passed to close the loophole. Big cats are well suited to the Welsh climate and terrain and as it was important to keep them away from humans, big cat owners from across large areas of England may have travelled to Wales to release their beloved pet in what they thought would be a better environment for it to prosper."