09:58AM, Thursday 10 May 2012
A 'sickened' farmer says dog attacks on his sheep are increasing and selfish pet owners are leaving the animals to die in agony.
Lee Bolton found a dead lamb and three ewes with bite marks to their heads and throats in his Knowl Hill fields on Friday.
He said it is the latest in a series of savagings and he may be forced off the land if they continue.
He said: "Every year sheep are killed and it's almost got to the point where we can't use the land."
The 46-year-old is appealing for people to keep their pets on a lead in the fields and has been backed by police.
They are investigating the attack and have warned owners not to let their dogs get a taste for blood.
Wildlife crime officer PC Simon Towers said: "If a dog has done this once it is very likely that it will want to do it again because a natural instinct will take over."
Mr Bolton rents 70 acres of land from Lot Farm in Lutman's Haven which is criss-crossed by four footpaths and is regularly used by dog walkers.
He said attacks have risen in the last three years with at least 12 lambs and sheep killed or injured.
"The thing that angers me is they leave them suffering and if I'm not there it can be for hours.
"Rather than having the bottle to front up and come clean - people just clear off.
"How can they do that if they are animal lovers? It's sickening."
By law a farmer can shoot a dog caught worrying livestock on his or her land and the owner can be sued for compensation. Mr Bolton said he has no interest in harming dogs and just wants to protect his sheep by raising awareness of the problem.
Police say the attack took place between 10am on Thursday and 1pm on Friday. Anyone with information should call PC Hedley Gabriel on 101.
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