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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Police warning after sheep targeted

POLICE are urging farmers to be vigilant following the slaughter and theft of sheep.

The call follows three incidents in just a few days across rural north and west Cumbria.

Livestock owners are being encouraged to check their stock regularly and report any suspicious sightings of people in and around their land.

On Thursday a passerby made the grisly discovery of four sheep heads on a roadside verge in the Appleby area.

A police spokesman said it was not clear whether the animals found near the sewage works had been butchered for their meat.

On Friday, 63 sheep were also reported missing from a farm at Plumpton between Carlisle and Penrith.

The police spokesman also said he understood that sheep had also gone missing in Dearham in west Cumbria.

He added: “The message is to be aware and lock up your sheep because there are incidents of theft and injury to livestock.”

The crimes have also been reported to Cumbria Farm Watch, an extension of the Neighbourhood Watch movement aimed specifically at the farming community.

Incidents of the kind seen at Appleby are quite rare in Cumbria, but have increased nationally as meat has become more expensive.

Keith Twentyman, an adviser with the NFU in Carlisle, said: “Thankfully, it’s not a big problem across the county but just one incident is too many.

“We can only speculate about where this meat ends up whether it goes onto the black market or is used in pet food.

“It’s a horrible thing to do. While members of the public would be horrified by this, farmers feel just the same. They hate to see animals suffer and they have strict codes of practice for looking after them.”

There were three similar incidents in Cumbria this year where animals were slaughtered for their meat in the fields.

Police continue to urge people to stay alert and report sightings of suspicious activity as they continue to try to tackle all types of rural thefts.

Anyone with information about the latest crimes should call police on 101. Information can also be passed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Rural security advice is also available from www.cumbriafarmwatch.co.uk.

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