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Sheep killings leave farmer devastated

Farmer Allan Ridland with one of the dead sheep suffering multiple gunshot wounds - Photo: Hans J Marter/ShetNews

A SHETLAND farmer has spoken of how he had almost 100 sheep shot dead by a group of young men going on a rampage with guns.

Allan Ridland, who has been farming at Punds, Voxter for all his working days, said his life has turned into “hell on earth”.

Police in Shetland issued an urgent appeal on Saturday night asking for anyone with information to get in touch.

Local people reacted with shock and utter disbelief when they first heard on Sunday morning.

Speaking to Shetland News later on Sunday, the 68 year old farmer said he was not the only one who has had livestock killed over recent months.

At least five other crofters in the area had also suffered losses, he said, adding that the total number of sheep shot dead was about 120.

Ridland said that since 31 March last year 97 sheep have been shot dead on his land, mainly lambs, but also ewes and hogs.

He has also had two cattle shot, both animals suffering severe injury.

When he first contacted police back in spring last year following the first shooting incident he was told that this was a case of vandalism.

But when the incidents became a more regular occurrence he started to keep a record. He said he knows who is behind it but can’t prove it.

He started taking the dead sheep into Lerwick Police Station about a month ago.

“However, it is only in this last month that I started tying all this together,” he said.

“Initially I thought somebody was targeting me personally, but now I have come to the conclusion that this is – as police said – a form of vandalism whereby some individuals get some sheer and utter enjoyment from seeing something dying.”

“Anything that moves gets shot. That’s the truth of the matter.”

A dead ewe with two new born lambs.

Ridland recalled one evening when he came home after visiting someone in Lerwick to find 27 baby lambs and their mothers slaughtered.

“It was carnage, absolute carnage, they were one, two and three days old,” he said.  You wonder who can do something like that; psychopaths really.

“I am actually frightened to go out now, in case I meet them.”

With his farm located next to the Voxter Outdoor Centre and a popular plantation of trees nearby, he said it scared him to imagine what else could happen.

Local NFU branch president Jim Nicolson, said he was “shocked” when he heard of the shootings on Sunday afternoon.

“It is difficult to comprehend why any person or persons should do such a thing,” he said.

A spokesman for Shetland police said officers would like to speak to anyone with information that could help them track down the culprits.

They said the animals were found by their owner on land around Voxter, with some of the sheep suffering multiple gunshot wounds.

Police in Lerwick can be reach by phoning 101.

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