Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mystery Beast on the loose again?

Loren Coleman wonders, meanwhile a second lethal attack occurs...

Here is the first article from the Portland Press Herald:
Killings of sheep blamed on dogs
A coastal Maine farmer puts his losses at $10,000, saying several ewes were intended for breeding.
By ELBERT AULL, Staff Writer
June 4, 2007

Police said they believe a group of dogs is to blame for an overnight attack that killed more than a dozen sheep this weekend in Wiscasset.
Farmer Lee Straw left the carcasses out near the road Sunday while he waited for an insurance company official to photograph his losses.

"It's kind of too bad that people have to look at them, but if they'd keep control of their dogs, they wouldn't," said Straw, who runs Straw's Farm in Newcastle.

The sheep were part of a flock of around 30 at a pasture on West Alna Road.

Straw said he got a call around 5:30 a.m. Sunday from a West Alna Road resident who said the sheep were loose on his property.

He drove to Wiscasset from his farm in Newcastle and discovered the rest of his sheep running loose, along with several carcasses.

Only a couple of the 15 dead sheep showed signs of having been eaten, usually a telltale sign of a coyote attack, Straw said.

"These were just chewed up and left," he said.

The attacks were the worst for Straw in three years. He said he lost 17 sheep to a group of dogs in 2004, but police never found the dogs.

Police, along with Straw and the pasture's owner, said they believe a group of area dogs either jumped or pushed over the farmer's electric fence and went after the sheep. They said they do not believe the attack was the work of coyotes because few of the sheep were eaten.

"It has to be dogs, and more than one, because one wouldn't do that much damage," Officer Kathy S. Williams said.

Williams said no one in the neighborhood reported hearing the overnight attack, and police have no suspects.

She said the dogs probably toppled the fence, which delivers an electric shock on contact, to enter the pasture. She said the sheep were valued at around $2,000.

Straw said he believes the canines jumped his 4-foot fence. He said because about two-thirds of those killed were intended for birthing lambs, they would have been worth $10,000 over the course of several years.
[Click here to read full article: Source]
And here is the second article, from this morning:
Farmer loses 14 more sheep to dog attacks in Wiscasset
Police and game wardens try to discover whose dogs are responsible.
June 5, 2007
By ELBERT AULL, Staff Writer

The second dog attack in as many days decimated a flock of sheep in a pasture in Wiscasset on Monday, said police and game wardens.

West Alna Road residents found carcasses scattered throughout the neighborhood after the attack, which killed 14 sheep in the same pasture where more than a dozen sheep died the night before.

"Somebody has to know whose dog it is," said Lee Straw, 52, of Newcastle, a farmer who owns hundreds of sheep.

Police and game wardens spent much of Monday searching for clues to help find the dogs that are suspected of killing 29 sheep since Saturday night.

Investigators took hair samples and sent one carcass to a lab to measure bite marks.

Jeff Hunter, who lives about 50 yards from the sheep pasture, discovered the carcasses during a morning walk.

"I was having my coffee and cigar and I found another sheep dead next to my driveway, in a ditch," Hunter said.

He looked toward the fenced-in pasture on Bob Horne's property on West Alna Road and saw another carcass.

Hunter called Horne and the warden service. "What I saw was ugly," he said.

Investigators believe that a group of dogs, not coyotes, are to blame for the killings, said Mark Latti, a spokesman for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Few sheep were eaten, and coyotes attack prey for food, police said.

Straw, who runs a farm in Newcastle, has kept a flock of ewes on Horne's property for the past five years.

The flock trimmed and fertilized Horne's 30-acre field in return for the free stay.

It was an arrangement that ran smoothly until this weekend.

"We've never had this kind of kill on my fields," he said.

Horne said he checked on the flock after Sunday's Red Sox-Yankees game, which ended around midnight. The sheep looked fine, he said.

When morning came, Horne said, he and Hunter found carcasses "all over the neighborhood."

Straw said he believes that the same group of dogs was involved in both attacks.

He said that if investigators identify the dogs, his insurance company will likely seek damages from their owners.

Straw lost 15 sheep in the first attack and 14 in the second. The attacks whittled his flock on West Alna Road from 30 to just one.

Many of the sheep were pregnant ewes. Straw said they could have produced offspring and goods worth $20,000 during their lives.

Straw buried most of the carcasses on Monday, except two that had not been found and another that was sent to a laboratory.

On Sunday, he left a group of carcasses from the first attack near the road while he waited for an insurance official to catalog his losses.

Straw and Horne covered those carcasses with a tarp on Sunday night. He said he regrets not watching the flock overnight, with rifle in hand. He and Horne thought foul weather would deter predators.

"It was raining, and we thought we had them in a tight area," Horne said.

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