A HEARTBROKEN sheep farmer said he was reduced to tears after 26 of his one-week-old lambs were killed in a suspected dog attack in Baughurst.
The savage attack took place in a field off a bridleway from Violet Lane, on Sunday, May 14, between 9am and 1pm and police say that the wounds indicate the sheep were attacked by a large dog rather than a fox.
Hampshire Police have now started an investigation and are appealing for witnesses.
The owner of the flock, James Edwards, is urging people to keep their dogs on leads when walking them near livestock.
After finding the sheep dead, Mr Edwards tweeted: “I feel sick. I give up... Haven’t finished counting the dead yet and lots missing. You’ve broken me.”
Mr Edwards said he checked on the lambs at 7am and left at 9am.
When he returned at about 2pm, he came across a dead lamb on the bridleway.
Its horrific injuries, primarily on the hind quarters, were consistent with being chased.
One ewe, called Doris, lost two lambs and Mr Edwards said: “It was heartbreaking to watch. Sheep are very maternal and the lambs were so badly bitten that Doris did not recognise them as her babies.
“She kept walking away, bleating and returning to the bodies.
“It was sad to see that moment when she realised that the lambs were hers.”
Mr Edwards has managed to introduce two new lambs to Doris, who has since adopted them.
He added: “They [dogs] may be a lovely family pet, but if they see a rabbit or a field of lambs you can’t stop it.
“It’s like they return to a wolf moment. They are all descended from wolves.
“Why take the risk? Just put them on a lead around sheep.
“I have never caught anyone at it, but only had to pick up the pieces afterwards or stop people before anything can happen by telling them to put their dog on a lead.”
This is the third time in a year that domestic pets have harmed Edwards’ sheep.
Mr Edwards said: “Domestic dogs killing sheep is almost considered standard these days.
“This has become the biggest killer of sheep with 15,000 sheep killed last year by dogs. And that’s only the deaths that are recorded.”
Since the incident, Mr Edwards has cleaned up the mess and reunited other lambs, who ran away during the attack, with their mothers.
Pc Will Butcher, from the Country Watch Team, said: “Being in possession of a dog that worries or causes injury or death to livestock is an offence, which can result in prosecution and the pet being seized and destroyed.
“Please be mindful of the consequences.”
Pc Butcher added: “This incident took place in a popular location for dog walkers, both locally and further afield.
“It is likely that there would have been other dog walkers in the vicinity, and I would appeal to them to come forward if they have any information about this incident or those involved.”
Anyone who witnessed the attack, or saw an unattended dog or dogs in the area, should call Pc Butcher on 101, quoting reference number 44170181134. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.