Tuesday 1 January 2008

Farmer's, get in touch.

KENT BIG CAT RESEARCH would like to appeal to any farmers who've lost sheep, whether in the past, in the present, infrequently or often. A majority of farmers are often unaware of large cats roaming the countryside, whilst others are seemingly afraid to come forward to report their losses. It's important that farmers and the like are made aware of such animals roaming the fields and woods, and that sheep losses ARE often the work of 'big cats' and not dogs.

Many people contact researchers, wildlife agencies, authorities etc, to report that they've lost sheep and that they want the wild dogs caught, despite the fact that the injuries they speak of are not typical of dog attacks.

Dogs are spiteful and brutal when they attack sheep, and many can be killed or severely wounded in a night, but a dog will not leave scratch marks down the flank of a ewe, or administer a crushing throat bite to leave four puncture marks in what often ends up a dislocated neck. Sheep are rarely eaten by dogs, and certainly never eaten cleanly, as an animal such as a puma or leopard will kill a sheep and with a rasping tongue clean the bones, leaving a very tidy carcass.

Of course, younger cats plying their trade and learning to hunt may make a slight mess, and scavengers which tend the victim afterwards will also alter the kill, but in general, we expect a 'big cat' kill to be clean and efficient, even stored up in a tree.

Farmers need to come forward to share their tales, because although they are very private people it must be known as to which flock attacks are down to cats and which are dogs.

There may even be dogs out there attacking sheep and giving 'big cats' a bad name, and locals creating legends which simply aren't there, but the reality is, alot of farmers are losing sheep to exotic felids, but they must report and photograph their livestock casualties.
Other farmers may indeed take to the fields with guns, eager to take a pot-shot at a cat, if they are lucky enough in their eyes to see one. The last we thing we need is an injured and very aggressive cat on the loose.
It seems unlikely that farmers will ever be compensated for losing sheep and lambs to large cats, but if the farmers voice isn't being heard then nothing can be enforced.

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