SHEEP farmers in Tockholes said hare ‘lampers’ were wreaking havoc and causing them to lose livestock.

In one incident, 25 sheep were chased from a field by dogs and scattered across a vast area while one was killed.

Farmers said they believed the dogs belonged to people coming to the area for ‘lamping’, in which a lamp is shone on a hare and lurchers set on it.

However, when the lurchers see a sheep they chase them and, in some cases, kill them.

Farmer John Smith, of New Barn Farm, said one of his sheep was savaged during the incident earlier this month.

He said: “The sheep were chased out of my field by lurchers.

“One of them was worried, and what I mean by that is it had its throat ripped out and back legs ripped apart.

“The sheep ended up all over the place. Some were up at Darwen Tower, some at the bandstand in Sunnyhurst Wood and some on the golf course.

“I got all the other sheep back in the end but it took a few days.”

Mr Smith said it was a regular problem farmers in the area had to deal with.

He said: “Every year we get one or two worried and sometimes it is just because a dog gets loose from its owner.

“But it costs £100 for every sheep I lose and £150 if it is lambing season.

“It costs £20 just to get rid of them as you can’t bury them.

“It isn’t the villagers or walkers doing it, it is people coming into the village especially.”

Another farmer said: “I have had problems in the past. I lost a sheep in December. The big problem is the cost and you don’t like your animals being disturbed.”

NFU spokesman Chris Hudspith said: “Lamping isn’t really something the NFU would get involved with. We would tend to leave it up to the police.

“Lancashire Constabulary is doing a great job at cracking down on rural crime through schemes such as Farm Watch.

“Sheep worrying is a big problem for the industry and if it is happening in East Lancashire then that is a major concern.”

Police wildlife officer PC Mark Thomas said: “We take incidents of this nature seriously.

“We have Farm Watch schemes in the rural areas and we do urge farmers and residents to sign up to those.”