Desmond Loughery made the horrific discovery on Easter Sunday morning in a river next to the Leighry Road car park at Binevenagh near Limavady, the start of a picturesque mountainside country walk for many young families.
“I really couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” said Mr Loughery.
“It’s not simply the pollution, it’s the fact that someone would even think this was an appropriate way to dispose of dead farm animals, at a place which so many people come to walk, so many with young families.
“It’s not hard to imagine that children could easily have been traumatised by the sight,” he said.
“I first noticed a single carcass on the bridge which connects the car park to the country walk,” he continued. It leads off to a short circle route around the mountain which is usually well populated with walkers and mountain bikers.
“There weren’t too many in the car park at the time, which is a relief. But when I went over to take a look I peered over the bridge and was shocked at what I saw below.
“You first notice the blood flowing in the water,” he said.
“But gathered up around the bank were around 20-30 dead lambs. Some of them had been skinned.
“More had been washed downstream. It was a sickening sight. There would have been at least dead 35 lambs, possibly more.”
Desmond said he immediately reported the find and said he hopes the authorities arrive to dispose of the bodies before more people arrive at the beauty spot over Easter holidays.
“This is a really popular spot,” he said. “There are going to be lots of families coming out here and this isn’t something any of them would wish to stumble across.
“I can’t really understand why anyone would think it’s appropriate to dump the bodies somewhere where there are likely to be a lot of people visiting. It’s disgusting. It’s not as if it costs a lot to dispose of a dead lamb.
“I have no idea whether these have come from a single farm or from several farms. But they were left in full view of the public with not one thought for what young children might see.”
Farmers regularly skin the bodies of dead lambs and cover a new born which might have been rejected by its mother in the hope that the mother of the dead lamb will foster it.
“There was a field full of new born lambs there though, just dumped in plain sight,” said Desmond.
Local independent councillor James McCorkell said he has reported the incident to the council’s environmental health department.
“I would like to think they will move quickly and dispose of the carcasses at the scene,” he said.
“It’s just so careless. An awful scene for any family who might have been walking through the beauty spot.
“It’s bizarre that there were so many, 30-40 lambs,” he added.
“There are processes in place for farmers to dispose of dead animals in a way which is not distressing to the public.
“There’s the obvious water pollution issue, and while I can’t speculate on how they came to be dumped in the river, it will be difficult to trace where the lambs came from as I believe none of them had any identification tags.”
While the PSNI said no report had been received, DAERA said it is investigating the incident.
“Farmers are legally responsible for disposing of their fallen stock, not the Department,” DAERA said.
“It is vital for the agri-food and livestock industry that there is high public confidence in its ability to dispose of animal carcases, animal by-products and waste in a safe and sustainable manner.”
“Local councils have powers to take actions against such fly-tipping and action may be taken against the owner of the carcass.
“Most farmers deal with their fallen stock responsibly, but unfortunately there is a small number of farmers who don’t and this can impact on the reputation of the rest.”Tags: