AN ETTAMOGAH farmer was horrified to find 140 of his sheep dead in a paddock this week after what he believes was domestic dogs chasing them to the point of exhaustion.
Walter Farming manager Clint Heywood said the losses would cost him about $16,800 and he would be unable to make a profit from the 670 head remaining in his flock.
“Domestic dogs have come on to the property and have chased and chased and chased until they were exhausted and they dropped dead,” he said.
“There’s nothing left in the job with that sort of loss.”
Mr Heywood said the merinos, sold at $120 a head for their meat, had been infested with worms, and their weakness would have contributed to their deaths.
He said the scene he faced when he arrived at the Pub Road farm on Wednesday morning was like “a genocide attack” that might be seen on television.
“Every 20 metres there was a dead sheep,” he said.
“There were about 25 entangled in fencing.
“It was horrific.”
Mr Heywood called on dog owners to be more responsible and said he believed he was within his rights to shoot any dog that came onto his 1000 hectare property.
“You’ve got to be aware where your dog is and it needs to be properly secured,” he said.
“I don’t care whose dog it is, if I see it, it will be shot.”
Mr Heywood said 90 sheep had been stolen from the same property in November making it hard for the operation to remain viable.
Albury police rural crime investigator detective Sen-Constable Scott Barton said he also believed the attack had been perpetrated by domestic dogs.
“Dog owners who are in a rural area need to be vigilant in securing their dogs as farmers make their livelihood off the land and their livestock,” he said.
Sen-Constable Barton confirmed landowners were legally permitted to shoot dogs that strayed onto their properties.
He said owners were also liable to pay for losses caused by their dogs and faced a hefty fine.
Albury Council compliance team leader John Mulvey said the council’s investigation had so far not uncovered any direct evidence to suggest a dog attack.
“The council is of the understanding that the owner of the property is also seeking vet assistance to examine other potential causes,” he said.
“Compliance officers will await the results of any veterinary tests and further information from the owner to provide any additional assistance.”