THE big cats are back and they are a potential danger in the hilly forests above Widgee.
Graham Shooter says the cats he first saw and heard about three years ago seemed to go away for some time, until one turned up the Saturday before last behind his house.
He believes they may be the same species as panthers he has seen near Borneo and he is not alone in seeing and hearing them around the Gympie region.
Sightings have been reported over recent years from Bundaberg to Eudlo and Mr Shooter says people in the bush need to know the risks.
"I first saw cat prints approximately three years ago in our Palm Valley property," he said yesterday.
The unusual thing was that these cat prints were about 130mm across.
He says he saw one of the panthers chasing a white deer, soon after.
"It was the largest cat I've ever seen," he said, "bigger than a large german shepherd. And it made a yowling noise like 'Yow-ee'.
"Maybe that's where they got the name."
Mr Shooter said he first heard the sound one day walking with his dog.
"The dog took off and ran more than a mile back to the house," he said. "I decided to follow him, very smartly."
He said the big cats were not around for some time, until last Saturday, when the familiar call sounded behind the house.
Two hunters heard it this time as they worked to set up deer hunting cameras nearby, he said.
Colin Rossow told The Gympie Times about paw prints at Glenwood in 2009. He was supported by fellow Glenwood resident David Nelmes, who said he had not reported his experiences earlier for fear people would think him crazy.
Isis Central resident Laurel Fotheringham reported one in scrub in the Cordalba State Forest in mid-2013.
And last year John Rourke reported two sightings at Eudlo.
The sightings and reports of sounds made by the animals are backed by other sightings interstate.
"I have seen similar cats in the islands towards Borneo and I think they are the same species," he said.