The only thing worse for a young girl than the sight of a sheep mauled to death is knowing that there will be more laying by the riverside trying to breathe through open wounds in their throats.
The appearance of feral cats around our home and @OwdFred’s haunting description of his traumatised cattle stirred a terrifying memory of childhood autumn mornings at my grandparents’ sheep farm. For weeks, my father lay awake with his gun in darkened paddocks and for weeks, he returned with that gun and me in the crisp light of dawn to find and relieve the dead and dying of their suffering.
I must have been about 10 at the time and it was my job to stand in the back of the ute to spot striken sheep as he drove slowly back and forth along the riverbank. Some sheep simply drowned in their attempt to flee from the predators, others crashed through fences and, inevitably, the young and old suffered the most.
When a neighbour had 100 sheep penned and lost 30 overnight, the story hit the news with appeals for all dog owners to contain their pets at night but still the carnage continued.
Then, one night during Dad’s vigil, a pack of dogs appeared and began its ugly sport. Dad fired as many shots as he could, clipping one dog’s ear. It turned out these dogs were local pets who “wouldn’t hurt a fly”. Bored dogs allowed to roam free at night. Pampered pooches with blood lust.
Instead of fanciful schemes to track the “black panther”, one day I hope we will instead look to our own backyards.