Wednesday, February 11, 2015

FARMERS in the Nurney area have appealed to dog owners to keep them under lock and key after a spate of attacks on sheep that have left countless animals dead. One farmer, who has lost thousands of euros worth of livestock over the past two years, is now so angry that he has vowed to shoot any dog he sees on his land.

The latest attack happened in the early hours of Monday morning when farmer Leslie Hopkins discovered that three new lambs were killed, while up to 20 others were badly bitten. One little lamb suffered a broken leg during the attack that occurred between 3am and 6am on Monday.

“When you see your animals suffering like this, it would bring a tear to your eye,” Leslie said. “You lose lambs along the way, like if a fox takes one, but this is heartbreaking.”

Leslie regularly checks his sheep during the middle of the night, but no matter how vigilant he is, there seems to be no preventing the onslaught against his vulnerable flock. Some of the creatures are only three weeks’ old, while the long-term effects on the adults can be devastating. Some sheep will never recover from the shock and will be so nervous at night time that they huddle together, fretting about another attack.

In all, five farmers from the Nurney area have suffered losses because of marauding dogs, and one of them, Denis Nolan, reckons he has lost more than 30 sheep over the past two years.

Just a week ago, four hoggets which were in lamb were in a paddock right beside his bungalow to keep them safe, but they, too, were killed.

After every attack, Denis goes hunting for the dogs responsible for the killing, but so far they’ve remained at large. He has even visited the homes of local dog owners to check if the dogs were covered in blood or wounded, but to no avail.

Now, with 400 sheep to lamb in the coming weeks on his farm, Denis is determined to shoot any dog he sees on his land.

The attacks have mostly happened at the weekend, so Denis reckons the pet owners are not being careful enough about keeping their dogs locked up.

“Someone is not minding their dog properly. If I think a dog is worrying my sheep, I will shoot it,” Denis vowed. “I’m not taking any chances because this is my livelihood. I’m not putting up with this any more.”

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By Elizabeth Lee
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