The Fiskerton Phantom
Walk around the tiny hamlet of Short Ferry, Lincolnshire, and you wouldn’t suspect that the area is home to a monster. Or so the legend would have you believe.
Back in 1997, the first Harry Potter novel was released, Blair became PM, and the first reported sighting of the Fiskerton Phantom. The story goes that 4 girls aged between 9 and 14 were at the local pub, the Tyrwhitt Arms encountered a beast that is described as bear-like, 4 foot tall, feeding on a pheasant. They ran from the jet black creature to seek help inside the pub. The creature was sighted in the area by motorists and has purportedly been sighted as recently as 2011.
So what is the Fiskerton Phantom, and what credit should we give the story?
The beast is said to be ursine,or perhaps panther-like, the latter being the most reported type of cryptid for the area. It’s interesting to note that there aren’t any animals that are particularly bear like which naturally live in the whole country since bears became extinct over a thousand years ago on the British isles. Given how developed and explored the British Isles are, I find it hard to believe that any ‘relic population’ could exist anywhere in the country.
The argument I've always been presented with when talking to UK big cat believers is that the creatures are escaped pets or zoo specimens, which are surviving on livestock and the bountiful fauna of the United Kingdom. I question this seriously. The most common sources of food would be rabbits, hares, pheasants, etc. but could these support a big cat? An all-bunny diet can’t be healthy for a beast that would naturally eat larger game. I’m saying it’s not possible, but any big cat that is around may find it hard to make a substantial living in the rolling British hills without attacking and feasting on livestock such as sheep and goats. There simply isn’t enough evidence to suggest that this is happening.
Back to the bears. Bears are incredibly resourceful animals, which have adapted to survive across the road but, as I previously mentioned, I don’t believe that any form of relic population could exist. However, if we’re assuming then that the bear is escaped, could a small animal have survived for 14 years? Probably not.
We now trot onwards to the next likely suspect, a dog. Dogs may not necessarily be large enough to fit the criteria, but in the late of night, fear can greatly exaggerate the size of something, skewing eyewitness testimony heavily. Dogs can be grim bastards, there’s no denying. My dog for example has been known to carry rotting pieces of roadkill off in his mouth, and has a natural interest in meat. I find it entirely possible that a big dog that was on the site could be the real source of the Fiskerton Phantom.
The final possibility is simply that it’s a hoax. I know that we want to believe in ghost and cryptid stories, but I think we are all to willing to assume that a story is right without giving reasonable discussion into the credibility of the witness; imagine is that was allowed to happen in a court of law. I don’t believe in outright dismissal of a story, and without first hand experience of talking to witnesses, I won’t make a decision either which way as to whether this story could be a hoax or not, but it is worth considering in every investigation.