Hunters stalking feral dogs believed to have killed 50 deer and 16 sheep
Two lurcher cross-breeds are believed to be responsible for killing up to 50 deer since November within a three-mile radius taking in Clara Vale, Ballylug and Trooperstown.
The dogs are also believed to have been responsible for killing up to 16 sheep and maiming others so badly that they had to be put down or later died, the Wicklow People reports.
Local landowners became so concerned about the animals, they gave permission for hunters to stalk the dogs on their land. One of the dogs was shot and killed on January 13 but the other dog - described as a large, tawny coloured lurcher mix - remains at large.
Peter Windsor is stalking the remaining dog and captured video footage of both dogs after setting up some cameras.
"The footage would shock you," said Mr Windsor. "It appears the black dog would chase the deer down and the brown dog, which is still at large, was the muscle. The remaining dog is huge, probably a metre high from the shoulders.
"In some incidents they were carolling the deer up against the fence before attacking but we also have evidence of deer being killed in the open hills. No dog is bred for that sort of thing. In my opinion both dogs had to be purposefully bred to hunt deer. They have to be blooded to carry this out".
Up to 35 deer carcases have so far been recovered but the numbers are expected to be higher.
"There are bound to be more carcases in the woods and other more secluded locations. I would estimate that there could be up to 50 or so deer killed," said Mr Windsor.
The black dog shot on January 13 was not micro-chipped and doesn't appear to have originated in the general area where the attacks have taken place. Experts reviewing the footage of the two dogs believe they could be lurcher breeds crossed with Rhodesian ridgebacks or bullmastiffs for a combination of speed and power.
"They were feeding from the carcasses," explained Mr Windsor. "Luckily, I had my camera in the perfect location. They killed one deer at 6 a.m. and then came back to feed at 8.30am, 11.10am and 11.30am.
"They basically killed the deer, bled it and then returned to feed. They were coming back to eat the bones as well. They were eating through the ribs right down to the spine".
The dog which remains at large has also killed at least one more deer by itself since it's hunting companion was killed.
"It's a very aggressive animal and can clearly kill by itself. It doesn't show itself to humans and he is only getting caught on camera. He is proving extremely difficult to track down but it's only a matter of time. There is no saving or recuperating this dog. It's too late. It has already gone to the darkside," said Mr Windsor.
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