SKYE police are investigating the alleged theft of more than 30 sheep from graziings near the Trotternish Ridge.
Alarmed stockmen in the Linicro Sheep Stock Club had noticed in the past five to six weeks that some of their livestock were missing. They had hoped the sheep would reappear but subsequently reported their loss to Police Scotland at the end of last week.
Officers have now issued an appeal for information following the suspected theft of the well-bred Blackface sheep. The animals vary in age and are all clearly marked with black paint on their shoulders. The sheep graze on the moor on either side of the Bealach road which links Staffin, Kilmuir and Uig and also takes visitors to the Quiraing.
The road, although single track, is an increasingly busy stretch with heavy visitor traffic. The sheep can graze a large section of the hill but are generally “hefted” to a particular area as they would have grazed their as lambs with their mothers. It is unusual if the hefted sheep move from their normal area. The Linicro hill sheep are gathered several times a year by the club for marking, castrating, shearing, dosing, etc.
All sheep in the UK must have ear tags which display their flock and ID number so they can be traced to their owners. However, in sheep rustling cases in other parts of the UK the tags are often removed by unscrupulous thieves.
Constable Katherine Tindall, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are asking that crofters in the Trotternish area check their land and also to report any suspicious activity including unfamiliar vehicles with animal trailers in the area.
“Rural crime be it the theft of animals, machinery or damage to property hits hard at the heart of small communities and by all being vigilant we can make the area a hostile place for those intent on committing such crime.
Anyone with information is asked to contact 101 quoting incident number NP3646/17 or if they wish to remain anonymous, Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”