25 Feb 2014

Why did 500 sheep smother to death?

1:58 pm on 25 February 2014

A sheep smothering incident on a Southland farm has brought a plea for people not to go onto farms uninvited.

Gore police are investigating whether poachers or other intruders caused the smothering of 500 sheep, found dead in a narrow gully on a farm at Mt Wendon, near Riversdale, about a week ago.

It's assumed something caused the sheep to panic, and Detective Sergeant Greg Baird says they're investigating the possibility the flock may have been disturbed by someone who wasn't meant to be on the farm.

Mr Baird says poaching is becoming increasingly common around Southland. Police are also inquiring into illegal spotlighting on Department of Conservation land at Piano Flat.

Southland Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair Andrew Morrison says sheep can be easily spooked and people shouldn't be going onto farms without permission.

He adds, though, that sheep smothering was a lot more common in the past and cases like the latest incident are rare these days.

Police investigating the latest incident want to hear from anyone who may have seen suspicious activity in the Mt Wendon area between 11pm on Sunday 2 February and 7am on Monday 3 February.