Report from Chris Smith
A non-native predator - possibly a big cat - is being blamed for a spate of sheep killings on a farm near Inverness. The farmer, who is not being identified but who lives in the Kiltarlity area, is so concerned at the rate he is loosing sheep that he has called in the Scottish Agricultural College to try and identify the culprit.
Alan Syme, of the college's veterinary laboratories in Inverness, said yesterday that the remains of the four ten month old blackface sheep he studied indicated that they had been killed by some creature other than dogs or foxes.
"In three cases, practically all of the carcasses and bones seem to have been carried away, which is not characteristic of the behaviour of dogs or foxes," he said. "These usually attack sheep in the belly and consume their prey on site. The farmer found one fleece was pulled inside out. This is a technique commonly used by exotic big animals of the cat family, but I cannot say exactly what killed these sheep from the findings of the post-mortem."
Mr Syme confirmed the animals deaths were definitely caused by a predator, as the remains wee checked for any other possible causes, such as disease. He said although it was not unusual for farmers to loose one or two sheep, the man in question approached the SAC because several had been found dead in the same field over a short time.
"The farmer has recently undertaken night vigils to keep an eye on the field where the attacks occurred," Mr. Syme added. "If it was a big cat that carried them out, the increased attention to this field has probably scared it away."
There have been regular reports of big cat sightings in remoter parts of Scotland for 20 years.
Aberdeen Press & Journal, February 20 th 1998
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