Farmers' fears of sheep being used as 'bait' for hunting games with dogs

SHARE THIS STORY
A sign on a field gate near Gilsland from Cumbria Police about sheep worrying
A sign on a field gate near Gilsland from Cumbria Police about sheep worrying

There are fears that sheep are being used as bait for hunting games with fierce dogs.

It comes after an outraged Cumbrian farmer posted the bloody aftermath of a dog attack on his sheep on social media.

Jonathan Woodmass, of Gilsland, found several of his sheep and lambs brutally savaged over the August bank holiday weekend.

One sheep was killed and six others had to be shot, while a large number of lambs were seriously injured in the attack.

In one week three farms in our area were affected with sheep being killed and sheep having to be put down. It's heartbreaking.

"Whoever it was have had their sport," said an angry Mr Woodmass, a fifth generation farmer.

"To me it looks like people have had more of an evening's entertainment. They were not looking for rabbits or hares. They were baiting dogs to get the taste of blood."

It is believed two other farms in the area were similarly hit.

"It cannot be a loose dog. These other farms were a couple of miles up the road and there are other sheep farms in between ours and theirs," Mr Woodmass added.

Mr Woodmass posted photos of sheep with bloody neck wounds on his Facebook account in a bid to warn other farmers, and to urge pet owners to keep their dogs on a lead near livestock.

"I'm sure the owner will know that their dog has been up to no good. It will have a belly full of wool and raw meat and would have had blood over its face," said Mr Woodmass.

The incident, which happened sometime between 5pm on August 27 and 9am on August 28, has had a huge impact financially because Mr Woodmass says, he has been unable to take his lambs - worth about £90 each - to his usual fortnightly market.

He added: "The law is very vague and seems to lie towards the dog and dog owner, and the farmer has to clean the mess up and foot the bill.

"Dogs now have to be chipped by law. Would it be viable to have them DNA screened at the same time and a database to be kept? It could make identifying a suspected dog 100 per cent.

"It's the worst feeling going into a field in a morning and finding carnage and distress amongst your flock and not knowing who to blame.

"In one week three farms in our area were affected with sheep being killed and sheep having to be put down. It's heartbreaking."

In recent weeks, other farmers have reported similar incidents on social media, despite warnings from police and the National Farmers' Union for dogs to be kept on leads.

Cumbria Police has seen an increase in sheep being worried in the Brampton area and have urged farmers to join a scheme warning trespassers to stay away.

Tracy Watts, Police Support Volunteer, said if anyone had any problems with poachers or people walking dogs on farmland to call 101.

National Farmers' Union spokesman Carl Hudspith said it was vital that farmers reported all sheep attacks to the police.

"Reporting incidents will give police an appreciation of the scale of the problem," he added.

"If you happen upon a livestock worrying incident in action try to take photographs of events as they occur, and if you can get a picture of the dog or owner this could help with identification at a future date."

People are being urged to take note of the licence plates of any vehicles involved.

Comment on this article

Generate a new code
Comments not OK? Click here to let us know
Read this..