The mutilation of eight sheep just outside Newry bears striking similarities to another brutal attack in the same area a few weeks previously, it has been claimed.
Police are appealing for information on “a brutal and cruel attack on a flock of sheep” in the Temple Hill Road area at Ballyholland between 8pm on Tuesday and 8am on Wednesday.
A spokesman said three sheep were “violently killed” with a further three having to be put down by a vet.
“Four more sheep have what appears to be large stab wound injuries. Some of these sheep have also had their ears cut off as a result of this barbaric attack.”
Ruairi McCartney, whose father owned the sheep, told the News Letter: “Somebody had to do a lot of running to catch them. It is quite disturbing, dad is just in shock.
“We were looking for a reason as to why this was done but there is just no rhyme or reason.”
Another family, who owned a flock that was attacked on June 22 at nearby Mass Rock, contacted him to share their experience. Both flocks were located just west of Newry in the Ballyholland area.
“It looked like their sheep suffered different injuries but they told us that four of their sheep had ears cut off too,” Mr McCartney said regarding the earlier attack on the other flock.
He believes the culprit does not live too far away.
“In both incidents someone knew the sheep were there”.
The attack on his own animals had a bizarre twist. Although eight sheep had ears cut off only one ear was found at the scene.
Three of his animals were found dead, three had to be put down and two have been seriously injured, he said.
The fact that two different flocks have been attacked suggests his family is not being singled out, he believes.
“There are no grudges held in this area, this is just out of the blue.”
After the first attack the PSNI said on Facebook that one line of inquiry was that of a panther attack.
A few days before the first attack police issued a formal appeal for information following the report of a large black cat – which they said was possibly a panther – in the Moneymore Road area of Newry. The location is halfway between Newry and Loughbrickland.
Asked if the injuries in the first attack were consistent with a knife or animal attack, the PSNI said they were “keeping an open mind” but were unable to comment further as it is an ongoing investigation.
Police are inviting information on the latest attack on tel 101, quoting crime reference number 188 of 05/07/17.