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"It's between a domestic cat and a bigger feline," said Eric Hansen from the national hunting office ONCFS.
For this reason, the searches were being reduced to just a "security team" looking for the animal in the urban area of Montevrain, next to the Disneyland Paris theme park.
Local authorities had earlier warned inhabitants of a nearby village not to walk in the streets and advised joggers not to use the nearby forest.
The animal would have had to cross the motorway about six miles from the village of Montévrain where it was first seen next to a supermarket car park on Thursday morning.
“Traces of the animal were spotted in the service station grounds in Ferrières-en-Brie … The Total petrol station has been shut,” police said in a statement.
The story has gripped France with wall-to-wall coverage on rolling news channels and local Le Parisien newspaper splashing the animal on its front page with the headline: "The unbelievable tiger alert."
Police armed with tranquilliser guns were brought in on Thursday to track the animal, and a dozen soldiers from a nearby army base later joined the hunt for the fearsome beast which was also being tracked from above by a helicopter equipped with thermal imaging.
A dog trained in tracking bears and large game was also helping with the hunt.
Police said they would try to sedate the animal once they find it but said they might have to shoot it dead if it presented a threat.
Police in Montrévain, 25 miles east of Paris, right next to the popular Disneyland Paris theme park, stood guard at the four local schools on Friday, as well as at another in the nearby town of Chessy, in case the beast was still in the area.
Jean-François Ameur, told his 12-year-old son to “be careful” as he dropped him off at school in Montrévain.
“It’s still on the loose and it hasn’t eaten. So yes, I am worried,” he said, adding that he like most other parents were making sure their children would not have to walk to or from school.
Tiger expert Gilbert Edelstein, from the Pinder circus, said the best response to coming face-to-face with the stripy beast, thought to weigh around 155 pounds, was to "scream as loud as possible."
"Even better, scream in German. The guttural sounds could scare him away," he told AFP news agency.
Authorities were still scratching their heads as to where the feline could have come from.
Locals said that the "tiger" could have escaped from a circus which was in the town the previous week. But the mayor of Montévrain ruled that out.
"The circus has been gone since Saturday, and during a health check carried out before the gendarmes did not see any tigers present," said a spokesman for the mayor's office.
Another theory was that it could have escaped from the Parc des Felins, a big cat sanctuary 20 miles from Montévrain. But a spokesman at the sanctuary said they were not aware of any missing animals.
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Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/11230870/Paw-print-found-as-search-continues-for-tiger-on-prowl-near-Paris.html