Farmers rethinking security

Southland police are investigating another two cases of sheep rustling, which have left farmers rethinking farm security.

After a report in Monday's The Southland Times, police yesterday said they were investigating two more cases of rustling during the past week.

In one of the new cases, Mokotua farmer Ron Munro said piles of intestines at a paddock entrance were all that were left of two of his sheep after they were slaughtered and stolen.

A further 200 of their romney sheep were also let out of the holding paddock.

Pointing out tyre marks left in the gravel, Mr Munro yesterday said it appeared a vehicle had backed up to the paddock, driven the sheep through the gate, then thieves captured and slaughtered two.

"It may have been easier for the thieves because some of the sheep were hand-reared pets, and come to the fence when someone approaches," Mr Munro said.

He did not understand why the thieves blatantly left the "guts" of the dead sheep in the open.

The thieves may have been spooked by an approaching car, he said.

Heavy rain and wind may have masked any noise, he said.

"It's hard to hear the dogs barking in the stormy conditions."

Mr Munro said he would be forced to padlock gates to deter criminals.

Police also confirmed a third incident of sheep rustling took place in Tramway Rd between January 6 and 9 when five ewes and a lamb were stolen and a further 244 sheep let out of a paddock.

Senior Constable Dave Raynes, of Invercargill, said it appeared someone was going around the edge of the city and stealing sheep.

Farmers and residents needed to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity, he said.

Southland Federated Farmers meat and fibre spokesman and sheep farmer Andrew Morrison said he had started padlocking gates on his own property.

Tough economic times were a possible factor contributing to sheep rustling, he said.

Farmers also needed to be sure their workers were trustworthy, he said.

"My advice to farmers is to lock their gates, set up neighbourhood support networks, count stock regularly and be aware of who is coming on to their property," he said.

Ministry for Primary Industries production and processing manager Sharon Wagener said anyone slaughtering and butchering sheep for their own consumption ate the meat at their own risk.

Only healthy animals should be eaten and the relevant withholding periods for any veterinary medicines needed to have elapsed before slaughtering the animal, she said.

Stolen and slaughtered animals could also suffer unnecessarily, said Ms Wagener.

The Southland Times