An afternoon taking their dogs for a swim ended in a gruesome discovery for one Wagga couple sparking concerns for the region's farmers.
Felicity Guttierres was walking along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River at Wiradjuri Reserve with her partner and their dogs when they spotted a dead lamb in a plastic container.
Ms Guttierres said the disturbing scene was compounded by the fact the animal appeared to have its legs broken.
"We go there a lot and tend to collect a lot of rubbish people leave, sometimes we will even fill the boot of the car, but when we saw the black crate, we realised the sheep was in it and had just been dumped there with no care," she said.
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Making the discovery on Sunday last week, Ms Guttierres said she reported it to police who initially suggested it may have been a farmer dumping deceased stock.
"It was just a bit bizarre to be as simple as that though, there was no attempt to bury it and it's just in a spot where anyone can go, plus being in a plastic crate is a bit strange," she said.
"I went into the police station then on Friday and they were very helpful, so I was told they went out on Saturday to have a look and to figure out what has happened."
With stock theft an ongoing issue for the region, theories of the lamb being stolen and dumped were put forth on social media by various Facebook users.
However, police have not yet confirmed the circumstances around the animal's death. Speaking to the issue of stock theft in general, Southern Zone Coordinator of the Rural Crime Prevention Team, Detective Sergeant Damian Nott, said the incident was a reminder to farmers to remain vigilant against stock theft.
"One of our biggest messages centres around target hardening, and there are many different ways you can achieve that as a producer," he said.
"There are obvious things like making sure fences are maintained, especially boundary fences, and record keeping is paramount.
"If you can't prove to police that the stock numbers are off and there has been a theft, it is difficult for us to then investigate."
Other ways to protect stock include the installation of security cameras, or use of signage against trespass, according to Detective Sergeant Nott.
"Police can help out with 'no trespassing' signs and bio security signs. Having a bio security plan means that if there are trespassers, it can allow for heavier penalty options at court and such, which can work to deter offenders if they know there is that potential for a greater penalty," he said.
"But even simple measures like putting a chain and padlock on a gate can help.
"On average due to the nature of farming and husbandry practices, it's about a three month window between counts of stock when, say, sheering or drenching of the animals is done," he said.
"So the time between getting good, accurate counts is then the window that offence could have occurred in.
"It is vital, whether it is two days, two months or longer that the reports of the crime do come to us. The simple fact is, if one person doesn't report it, but five neighbours have experienced the same thing, we then can't identify a possible big crime spike."