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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 06:26 GMT
Farmer hopes to trap big cat
sheep with lambs
The attacks may effect next year's lambing season
A farmer has built a trap in the hope of snaring a beast which he says has savaged his sheep.

Robert Harding has also taken video footage of the carnage left behind by the mystery animal which attacked three of his herd last week.

They were ripped apart by what appears to be a large animal as they grazed in a field in Somerset.

Mr Harding, who has farmed at Valley View Farm, Dundry, near Bristol, for 40 years, described the damage inflicted to the sheep as "unbelievable" and said he had never seen injuries like them.

True impact

He said: "There's a tremendous amount of flesh taken which points to something really big."

Mr Harding has constructed a mesh-type trap which will be baited in the hope of catching the creature.

But he said the true impact of the deaths on his flock might not be known until next spring.

"If the remaining ewes are so stressed they might not be able to conceive," he said.

Mr Harding has videoed the dead animals in the hope of attracting expert interest in the Somerset big cat.

'Neighbour's dog'

"The first thing you think is that it's a neighbour's dog.

"But the amount of flesh which has gone from the carcasses is colossal."

A statement from Avon and Somerset police said there was not "substantial" evidence to warrant police taking action.

Mr Harding said that foot-and-mouth disease had caused added difficulties in attempting to keep livestock away from the beast.

"The government wants us to keep livestock movements to a minimum so we're really relying on the public to help out," he said.

Click here to go to BBC Bristol Online
See also:

25 Aug 00 | Wales
Police 'big cat' warning
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