DNA results from the mutilated carcasses of two deer in Woodchester Park have ruled out they were attacked by a wild cat.
The National Trust commissioned DNA tests on two roe deer that were found dead in Woodchester Park, near Stroud, Gloucestershire, after the possibility was raised that they could have been killed by a big cat, such as a panther or puma.
The injuries to the neck of the deer and the way they had been eaten were similar to that of big cat activity. Results from DNA tests carried out by the University of Warwick have revealed that the attacks may have been the result of a fox, or possibly a dog, instead.
"Other than deer, by far the strongest genetic signal we found on the Woodchester Park carcass was from a fox," said Dr Robin Allaby, associate professor at the university's school of life sciences.
Fox DNA was found on both deer carcases, he said, adding that it could be from the Canidae family of mammals, which includes foxes, wolves, dogs, jackals, and coyotes.
David Armstrong, head ranger for the National Trust in Gloucestershire, said: "The story of the investigation of the dead deer has really sparked off local curiosity, with a lot of people coming out to Woodchester Park to explore.
"People love a mystery like this and, although we haven't found a wild cat, many of our visitors clearly believe there might be something interesting living quietly hidden in Woodchester."
In January, three wallabies were found savaged in a similar attack in Cotswolds, 12 miles away from Woodchester Park.