Warning as barbaric sheep rustlers target Shropshire farms
Barbaric sheep rustlers are targeting roadside farms in Shropshire, slaughtering the animals in the fields.
Farmer Andrew Bebb found five of his wife's rare-breed sheep trussed up in the corner of a field at Wroxeter near in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
A large knife and other equipment was found in a bag near the terrified animals.
Mr Bebb says he thinks the gang were disturbed at about 11pm when a friend left his farm.
He is warning the public not to buy meat from the black market, saying the sheep had had veterinary treatment this week with medication that could make humans very ill.
Mr Bebb came across the distressing scene when he went out checking his sheep about 1am.
"I found one in a gateway and four more in the corner of a field, their legs trussed up with wire," he explained.
"They were very scared and we have worries that one has been so badly traumatised it may not survive."
Fourteen rare Leicester Long Wools were rescued from the field by his wife, well known breeder Davina Stanhope.
"They are the only flock in Shropshire, very precious and have irreplaceable blood lines," he said.
"They will form the start of future generations of Leicester Long Wools."
The family has put up a £1,000 reward for information leading to the prosecution of the culprits.
- Warning: Readers may find the images of sheep remains below distressing
The attempted theft of the animals is the latest raid in the area.
On Monday the remains of butchered sheep were found in the Atcham area and it is thought a farm at Church Stretton may also have been targeted.
"The sheep had been slaughtered and skinned with the carcasses taken away and the offal and everything else just dumped," Mr Bebb said.
He believes dogs would have probably been used by the gang and a van or other large vehicle.
The farmer is urging owners of flocks to be vigilant and appealing to people to buy their meat from local butchers.
"If you buy from the black market there is not traceability and that meat is not safe," he said.
"My wife's sheep had been treated by the vet with medication that if it had gone into the food chain, could make people extremely ill. They could not go for slaughter for at least 40 days after treatment."
Anyone who has seen anything suspicious, or who has information about the sheep rustling or where meat is being sold on the black market, should contact the police on 101 or use Crimestoppers on 08000 555111. Information can be given to Crimestoppers anonymously.
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