Rustlers on the hoof

Inspector Brian McFarlane is concerned with the amount of sheep thieving in the Borders.
Inspector Brian McFarlane is concerned with the amount of sheep thieving in the Borders.
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Nearly 130 sheep have been stolen from Tweeddale and the Gala Water Valley since the start of the year,

The Southern can reveal.

Both areas have been targeted by ruthless rustlers, despite many farms still counting the cost of the freezing conditions which killed thousands of animals across Scotland last month.

Community Inspector for the eastern Borders, Brian MacFarlane, said: “It is a double whammy for the farming community. Not only have they lost sheep during the severe winter weather, but they are also losing livestock through criminal activity.”

The first incident of 2013 saw six sheep lifted from a field at Heriot, followed by a further 44 being taken from Muirhouse Farm at Stow.

Another 21 animals were removed from a farm at Robinsland in West Linton, with 33 more being stolen from Winkston Hill near Peebles on April 8.

And the latest theft saw a further 15 sheep stolen from Baddinsgill Farm at West Linton last Tuesday.

Insp MacFarlane, who estimates that livestock theft has cost farmers in the Borders £250,000 over a 10-year period, added: “The northern section of the Borders seem to be getting targeted.

“Accessibility is a factor –all the sites are not far away from trunk roads, allowing the thieves to get away quickly.”

NFU Scotland’s president Nigel Miller, who farms at Stagehall near Stow, believes livestock theft is on the increase and called on members to be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

He added: “Has there been any unusual livestock transport vehicles in the area?

“Has there been any unusual activity at farm sales?

“Do you know of anyone who may be looking to sell more stock than they would normally? Are abattoirs and butchers being offered stock from unexpected or unusual sources?

“This impacts on the livelihood of members and we would encourage them to work with the police to track down these thieves,” Mr Miller warned, who said the culprits could be retagging the sheep.