Police warning as sheep are butchered near Newton Abbot
POLICE are investigating a series of attacks in South Devon where sheep appear to have been killed for meat.
Around 10 sheep and lambs were butchered on farmland in the Newton Abbot and Teign Valley areas.
There have been attacks on remote farmland at least eight times between November, 2012, and February, 2013.
Police are warning people not to buy any mutton or lamb meat offered for sale, unless it is from a reliable source, as many of the animals had just been vaccinated and the meat is unfit for human consumption.
PC Lawrence Wills, based at Chudleigh, said: "There have been at least eight offences in recent weeks and months both in the Higher Ashton and Ilsington areas.
"The manner in which most of the animals were attacked suggests that the person responsible may have some knowledge of butchery.
"Some of the animals killed recently had been vaccinated in the last two weeks.
"This is unusually late in the season because of the wet weather. Farmers usually leave at least two months after inoculation before the meat is toxin-free and put into the food chain.
"We would urge any individual or business not to buy any cheap mutton or lamb offered for sale in Devon and Cornwall, unless they are from a reliable source because of the possible risks to human health."
Police have made Teignbridge Council's environmental health department aware and are urging farmers to come forward to report any similar attacks.
"We would also like to hear from any farmers who may have seen similar offences on their lands.
"It could be that they have not reported them or believed the animals to have been attacked by dogs or other animals," said PC Wills.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact PC Wills on 101, quoting crime reference JA/13/114.