Report from George Markie
Sheep farmers in the Kintyre peninsula are hunting for a mysterious
animal that has killed more than 100 lambs in a just a few weeks.
Locals believe a big cat, possibly a puma, could be responsible for
the deaths, which have hit a number of farms near Campbeltown.
Stephen Jones farms 300 ewes in the southern part of the Kintyre
peninsula. He and his wife Patricia, originally from Norfolk, decided
to move to the area last year, attracted by the peace and solitude.
But for the past six weeks, that tranquilty has been shattered by the
slaughter of hundreds of lambs to an animal Stephen believes to be a
He said: "Quite a few people have spotted something, and the way they've been killed, with their throats ripped out - it's not the way a fox or dog would kill."
Stephen and Patricia have now lost over 115 lambs, all killed by a single bite to the throat. With each animal worth around £30, it is a big blow to their pockets, but it is not just the financial impact that is starting to affect them.
Patricia Jones said: "It's devastating - it really knocks you back, and you've tried to do a good percentage lambing. Then this has hit us and it really makes you wonder what we have got here."
With the farming industry already suffering the after-effects of the Foot and Mouth crisis, these attacks could not have come at a worse time for Stephen and Patricia. But they are not the only ones to be counting the cost.
Further down Glen Breakerie, Jimmy Umpherston thought he had been lucky. That was until last week, when he found two sheep with the throats ripped out, and he is worried the attacks could continue.
He said: "You just don't know what you're dealing with. There's no point in trying to catch a dog if it's a cat, and there's no point in trying to trap a cat if it's a dog."
Many big cats have been captured in Britain during the past few years - but only by video cameras. If the the beast of Kintyre does turn out to such an animal, capturing it, and preventing further livestock deaths may not be as easy.
Scotland Today, Monday, 4 November, 2002
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