FARMERS in Wyre Forest have joined forces with police after sheep had their throats cut and lambs were tied up.

The deaths and attempted thefts of livestock are being blamed on poachers and a rural watch has been set up to catch the culprits.

Farmers around Broome, Clent and Chaddesley Corbett, near Kidderminster, formed the group on Thursday, April 11, at a meeting called by local policing officer, PC Andy Wallace.

Eight people turned out and Broome landowner Ernest Lane was agreed as chairman.

The action is in response to incidents which began around a month ago.

At least four sheep have been found dead, some with bite wounds. On another three occasions lambs have been found left by gates with their legs tied ready for collection in a vehicle.

A gang of about five poachers with torches was spotted near sheep on one occasion but when challenged by a farmer in a Jeep they ran off under cover of darkness.

PC Wallace said: "The farmers are basically up in arms as this is threatening their livelihoods and they say it cannot go on. A sheep is worth between £120 and £140 and up to £240 if it is pregnant.

"Some have been found with their throats cut, attacked by dogs or tied up with boot laces or wire, ready for collection.

"The farmers are convinced this is the work of poachers who they say use the sheep to give their young terriers a taste of blood and to feed them. This is done to prepare the animals for illegal poaching or possibly even dog fighting.”

He warned the killing or taking of sheep is an imprisonable offence and the penalty for taking game at night in certain circumstances can result in a £2,500 fine and/or a six-month jail term.

He added: "If you see anything suspicious, without putting yourself at risk please try and obtain vehicle details, including colour, make, model, registration number and a description of the occupants if possible."

West Mercia Police can be contacted with information on 101 or in an emergency by dialling 999, or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.