Sheep massacre appals North Otago farmer

Farmer Peter Stackhouse is still coming to terms with the shocking slaughter of close to 200 sheep on his Ngapara farm in North Otago.

A paddock on his 25ha farm, which he owns with wife Janine, resembled a war zone on Saturday morning after he discovered 111 sheep had been killed overnight on Friday.

If that wasn't terrible enough, he came across another 80 dead sheep on Sunday morning while conducting a routine feed. Some wounded sheep were among the dead, which Stackhouse has been forced to euthanise over the past few days.

''They had blood coming out of their heads, I thought it might have been a dog attack,'' he said.

''I rang the vet and Luke Smyth came out and confirmed they were gunshot wounds.''

Stackhouse said he and Smyth then spent the next ''two or three hours'' cutting the throats of the sheep who weren't dead.

''Some were on the ground kicking and others had bullet holes in their heads but were still walking around.''

Others had been shot in their legs.

He believed whoever shot the sheep used a rifle with a silencer attached, as well as a catcher for cartridges, as none have been found in the paddock.

No bullet heads have been found either.

Stackhouse is at a complete loss as to why anyone would kill his sheep and has no idea why his property, around 25 kilometres inland from Oamaru, would be targeted.

''Who would do this? Sheep find enough ways to die without someone shooting them. Someone killing them like that is shocking.

''No-one has seen or heard a thing. The paddock would be more than a kilometre from the road and it's not visible.''

Stackhouse doesn't employ workers on his farm and said he had no reason to suspect the killings are a from of revenge or a vendetta against him.

''My family has been farming in the area for 60 years and we haven't made any enemies as far as I know.''

The financial loss for Stackhouse is huge.

He estimated that $30,000 worth of stock had been killed. He has around 2400 sheep in total on his 650 acre property.

Detective Warren Duncan, of Oamaru, said police would like to hear from anyone who saw anything suspicious or heard gunshots in the area on Friday and Saturday nights.

''It's unusual. Stock do get poached, but the fact we've had such a huge number that were shot and left is unusual.''

A motive and the kind of firearm used has yet to be established.

Duncan can be contacted on 03 434 1416.

The Timaru Herald