Police are investigating a second shooting of lambs on farmland near Doncaster in the space of a week, amid fears of an increasing severe rural crimewave in South Yorkshire.
Officers were called to Cherry Tree Lodge Farm in Crow Tree Bank, Doncaster, and found six lambs dead and a further six with injuries so serious that they had to be put down.
Two ewes were also hurt in the shooting, which is thought to have happened on overnight, on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.
Another six lambs were killed and two more were put down following a similar shooting a week earlier on Stoupers Gate Farm, near Hatfield.
Inspector Mark Payling, from the local policing team, said: “This is a sickening and thoughtless act of violence against animals, which has caused outrage amongst the farming community across the region and beyond.
“Both incidents have caused distress and outrage not only in our local communities, but across South Yorkshire. It is simply intolerable and I want to reassure the local community that we are determined to find those responsible.
“I understand that people will be concerned and we are exploring a number of lines of inquiry to confirm that these incidents are linked.
“We must keep an open mind in this early stage of the investigation and this is where any information that you hold, however small, could prove significant to finding out who did this.”
Chris Dickinson, a county adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said the two incidents involved lambs belonging to the same farmer.
He said: “It’s absolutely sickening that anyone could do this to Easter lambs and this is just part of a much more severe situation of rural crime in South Yorkshire where the majority of farms are on the urban fringe.
“Police are receiving four or five call outs every week to reports of horse fly grazing. We have a lot of sheep worrying in the area with dogs off their leads going after them, and people stealing lambs and selling them as pets.
“There has been a lot of quad bike stealing too.”
He said NFU officials are due to meet South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Billings this week to discuss the union’s concerns.
Mr Dickinson added: “Our advice to farmers is to remain vigilant, look out for any suspicious activity and make sure you report crime and report it stating the value of what has been taken or damaged.”