RSPCA 'appalled' by stray sheep shootings

Friday, 13 April, 2001, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK

Household Cavalry at Abergavenny cull Soldiers oversee culling at the Vale of Eywas, Abergavenny

The RSPCA has said it was "shocked and appalled" by film footage of stray sheep being shot by a marksman in public.

The incident near a farm at Gilwern, Monmouthshire, south east Wales, was captured on a home video.

The footage shows some of the 30 sheep being wounded and chased by the marksman.

The animals had broken livestock movement restrictions by straying too close to a main road.

But Monmouthshire council has been criticised for not rounding up the sheep into a pen before culling them.

An authority spokesperson said the authorised animal cull had involved a licensed slaughterman.

RSPCA spokeswoman Charlotte Morrissey said: "These animals have to be culled but there is no excuse for cruelty.

"We were shocked and appalled by what we have seen."

The RSPCA is now considering prosecuting those involved in the incident.

The National Farmers' Union Cymru has called for an investigation and the Farmers' Union of Wales also condemned the incident.

The Welsh Assembly's decision to earmark three more landfill sites as foot-and-mouth disposal areas has prompted further criticism from within the Labour Party.

Merthyr Tydfil AM Huw Lewis said the proposal to use the Trecatti landfill site at Dowlais was "a shambles".

In a statement, Mr Lewis said: "I am not prepared to allow Merthyr to become the dustbin for the rest of Wales." Mr Lewis was joined in his criticism of the decision by Merthyr MP Ted Rowlands.

On Thursday, Wrexham AM and MP John Marek said he was "aghast" at plans for the Astbury Quarry at Llay, near Wrexham, to be used for burying animal carcasses.

A third site has been earmarked at Pontardawe, where residents are due to hold an urgent meeting to discuss the issue.

But speaking on Radio Wales, Andrew Davies, the assembly's business manager, said there was no fallout in Labour ranks.

I would not say that one AM using that sort of language represents a split or division. It is a matter for Huw, the use of his language.

"I have no plans at this stage to do anything (about this). I will not comment on internal party matters.

"What we need to do is get on with the situation and ensure that it is dealt with successfully," he said.

The total number of confirmed foot-and-mouth cases reached 70 on Thursday, with three further positive test results.

All the confirmed cases on Thursday were in Powys, at Castle Caereinion, Manafon and Llynderw, near Welshpool.

The growing momentum to reopen visitor attractions round Wales in time for Easter continued with news Coed Cymru would have four woodlands open.

Pembrokeshire County Council has reopened a further 13 miles of footpaths at locations including Newgale and Solva.

In mid and west Wales, there remains growing anger and confusion over the planned disposal at Epynt of thousands of carcasses.