Monday 25 February 2019

Beasts of Bodmin Moor

"Get on". The farmer nodded to the platform at the back of his quad bike.  The ford focus patrol car had gone as far as it was going to go down the dirt track that wound its way through the woods from the road to the fields.  I left the car at the gate to the field.  It was splattered with mud from the track, and I thought about the 100 yards I would have to reverse back down the track before there would be enough room to try a three point turn.  But that was a problem for later, after I'd investigated the report of worrying livestock.  So I clambered onto the back of the quad and the farmer bumped and splashed his way across his field towards his isolated farmhouse.  It was the remotest and muddiest property I had so far visited since joining Devon and Cornwall Constabulary, and the owner could have doubled for Compo on the telly show Last of the Summer Wine.  As we arrived at the farm buildings he stopped with a jolt and pointed at the carcass of a sheep, its face and throat badly mauled.  The farmer had found the dead sheep that morning, the animal that had attacked it being long gone.  There were a couple of other sheep with injuries, but they had survived.  And they weren't pregnant. That was the last time I personally dealt with a sheep being killed, and I never did manage to find out who was responsible.  And to be perfectly honest I'm not sure we would even be able to attend an incident like that these days; we'd probably have to take the report via the internet or over the phone.  When I later spoke to the farmer to let him know I was going to file the crime as undetected he said, "Well I'll shoot the begger if it come back, even if 'tis Beast of Bodmin."
Attacks on sheep are far too common, particularly on Bodmin Moor where since last April there have been reports of 54 sheep being killed, 22 injured and 11 that had to be rescued after getting trapped in a quarry. And it's the Beasts of Bodmin that have four wheels or are "man's best friend" that are doing the damage.  Bodmin Moor is a common and sheep and ponies graze there, sharing the moorland and its roads with dog walkers and cars.  The challenges the sheep and ponies face are hard enough without having to cope with cars travelling at inappropriate speeds or dogs off the lead and worrying livestock. But we can all make their lives that bit safer with a little more care and attention when driving, and keeping our dogs on a lead between the beginning of March and the end of July, and at any other time of year when we are near livestock.  There's also a bit of a day of action on behalf of the livestock on the moor this coming Saturday 2nd March, with awareness events being held at Minions at 11.00 am and Pensilva at 3.00 pm.  You will definitely be able to get to them without getting stuck on a dirt track or taking a muddy ride on the back of a quad bike.
prevent livestock worrying on Bodmin Moor

PS. We wish you safe travels, and thank you for your kindness and honesty.

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