Farmer’s fury after two sheep are killed in Bradford on Avon

A FARMER is calling on dog owners to take more care after two of his sheep were mauled to death in Bradford on Avon last week.

Mike Coppin’s sheep were grazing near Willow Maze in Barton Farm country park, but when he checked his stock on August 26, he found a dead sheep with its throat ripped out.

Three days later, the second dead animal was found in the same field after whatever had killed the sheep had eaten parts of its body.

A livid Mr Coppin, of Woodrow Road, Melksham, said the attacks were carried out by dogs and that their owners should do more to stop incidents like this happening.

“This is just so annoying and infuriating even because it can be so easily prevented,” said the 55-year-old. As a farmer you are always prepared to lose a few of your livestock to illness for example but when dogs are let off their leads like this, it is just unacceptable. I just want people to take more care and respect the fact that there are sheep here. People do not seem to realise that a pet dog can turn bad no matter how well trained it is when it is around sheep. It is a criminal offence for starters for a dog to worry sheep and secondly, how hard is it to control your dog? It is just not good enough.”

Mr Coppin’s 70 sheep and 46 lambs use the park, run by Wiltshire Council, every summer as part of an arrangement with the park ranger to graze on the overgrown grass there.

“I have had my sheep in that area for a good five years now and in that time there have been a number of dog attacks, with all sorts of different incidents,” added Mr Coppin. The second kill was very unusual. To find just a leg, with no sign of the body was most unfortunate. There is a lot of public access in the park but whenever a sheep dies nobody ever sees it or at least they never report it. The police have their hands tied on something like this. Unless they get enough information saying so and so did it, there is very little they can do. You just hope people learn from this.”

Under Section 9 of the Animals Act 1971, the landowner or anyone acting on their behalf is entitled to shoot any dog on their land if they believe it is the only reasonable way of stopping it worrying livestock.

Earlier this year, a farmer in Yorkshire set up a petition, which has collected nearly 3,000 signatures, calling for a law requiring dogs to be kept on leads around livestock, something Mr Coppin fully supports.

“The more legalisation that protects farm animals the better,” he said. “I would definitely support something that can hold people accountable for these acts.”

This is Wiltshire

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