Bedfordshire farmer finds sheep killed and mutilated as rural crime reports increase

PUBLISHED: 09:00 17 May 2020 | UPDATED: 08:34 18 May 2020

Herts police were called to help move travellers from Shephalbury Park, Stevenage. Picture: Archant

Herts police were called to help move travellers from Shephalbury Park, Stevenage. Picture: Archant

Archant

Cattle rustling, sheep and lambs being killed and mutilated, and a pig slaughtered overnight and the innards left behind are just some of the crimes being reported to Bedfordshire police, leading to people being warned to be wary about purchasing meat from unregulated suppliers.

Beds police has seen an increase in animal and wildlife crime reports from the farming community since the start of lockdown.

These include incidents of walkers trampling crops or leaving gates unsecured, and loose dogs chasing cattle, sheep and deer. A single incident resulted in a number of sheep and lambs being killed and mutilated.

Evidence of cattle rustling has also been discovered at one farm, where a pig was also slaughtered overnight and the innards left behind.

Inspector Craig Gurr, from Beds police’s Rural Crime Team, said: “This activity can be devastating to small farms, as the loss of crops and livestock can have a serious effect on a farmer’s livelihood.

“It is also worrying that potentially unsafe meat may be circulating for sale in the county, as the animals were not slaughtered at a suitable premises or with the right controls in place to ensure the safety of the meat.

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“I would urge anyone who is approached to buy carcasses, or cuts of meat, to be cautious and to report it immediately to police or trading standards.

“If you notice any suspicious behaviour in rural locations, please do not approach, but immediately report it to police, and if you are walking your dog or are out for exercise, please respect the countryside.”

Oliver Rubinstein, Bedfordshire adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “The majority of people using the countryside have acted respectfully and this is much appreciated by our farmers.

“However, the recent dog attacks on sheep shows that even the most mild-mannered dog can still see red sometimes, so it’s absolutely essential that they’re kept on a lead around livestock.

“The stress of being chased by a dog has a huge impact on the animal, regardless of whether they’re attacked or not.”

If you notice anything suspicious, contact police on 101 quoting Operation Sentinel.

Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


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