By Sarah Howells
Incident appeared to have been part of a deer poaching attempt, said police officers.
Three pregnant sheep have been ‘mauled’ and killed at a farm in Martinhoe near Lynton.
Police believe the incident may have been part of a deer poaching attempt overnight on February 7-8.
The farmer had taken good precautions to prevent poachers driving on to his land at night by padlocking his gates but the method of poaching appeared to be by coursing deer with dogs.
The farmer found one of the sheep dead in the morning and the other two had to be humanely killed because of their injuries.
To make the financial impact worse for the farmer the sheep were all pregnant with lambs.
PC Martin Beck, wildlife crime officer, said: “The public who have information on those responsible need to understand that this just isn’t about venison.
“Poaching is a criminal offence which the police in North Devon and West Somerset wish to stop.
“This is rural crime and this is costing our farmers and rural businesses financially.
“Coursing deer with dogs is illegal and anyone caught will be prosecuted.
“If you believe you have poachers on your land please phone the police at the time it is happening”.
Police are asking for anyone with information about who was responsible to inform the police on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 quoting CR/008696/15.