Thursday, 23 August 2007

Attacks Could Be Big Cat

08 August 2007, Hawkesbury Gazette

A pile of dead lambs, including one without a head, lie in the back of Mr Hayden’s ute last week.

The back of one of the badly clawed ewes, which was later destroyed.
When fencer John Hayden heard what sounded like a woman screaming at daybreak a week ago, his blood ran cold.
What he found was enough to turn the stomach of any hardened bushie: his flock of breeding sheep had been cut down by something with razor-sharp claws. Altogether that night he lost 16 lambs and seven ewes, the bodies of the animals scattered around his Yarramundi smallholding.
"I thought it was a woman screeching down in the gully," Mr Hayden said of the noise.
"Then when I realised it couldn't be, I thought 'cat'.
"I've never heard a cat but we thought straight away that must be him."
One ewe had its hamstring ripped out, leaving it crippled. Several of the sheep in Mr Hayden's 43-strong flock were so badly mauled they had to be shot.
More was to come: last Saturday night he lost another ewe. This time just the head, skin and hindquarters were left behind.
"We've had the sheep for 12 months and never had trouble before, just since the lambing," he told The Gazette.
The predation has continued at the property from a variety of sources: "Yesterday morning an eagle got two more lambs, and I think a ewe has been taken by a couple of cattle dogs I saw on the property, but as for the rest, it doesn't add up to dog attack because they weren't ripped at all, except for one lamb that had its head completely missing.
"We still haven't heard from the Rural Lands Protection Board..."
Hazelbrook big cat researcher Mike Williams, who visited the property last week, said the injuries sustained by several of the animals – which included deep claw marks – were not consistent with a dog attack. "A sheep was attacked by an animal, which by using its front claws, ripped through about 120mm of wool and removed it to the skin on one side, leaving claw marks," he said.
"I do not believe dogs attack like this, neither do the two dog trappers and the agronomist that I contacted in relation to this case."

CFZ Oz Team

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