The owner of an animal sanctuary has spoken of his devastation after a llama at the site near Morpeth died as a result of being shot in the chest.
Larry came to Hilltop Farm in 2016. Robin Hills, who established the not-for-profit safe haven for injured, abandoned or vulnerable animals at Gorfenletch 18 years ago, has reported the incident to the police.
It is believed those responsible had entered the farm overnight at some time on Wednesday, February 20 or Thursday, February 21, before shooting the animal and fleeing the area.
Mr Hills said: “I don’t understand why someone would want to do something so awful.
“Larry had gone to the top field near Beacon Hill as there is a bit more grass on it. Although we soon realised something was wrong, we couldn’t get everything in place to move the body until Monday and it was then we realised he had been shot in the chest.
“We’re all devastated and he will be a big miss. He was the only llama at the sanctuary and he was great in looking after our 12 alpacas as he was quite territorial.”
He added that in previous years, a horse at the site had been shot in the neck and sheep have been attacked by dogs belonging to poachers.
Police are now carrying out an investigation to try and identify the suspected poachers responsible for killing the llama.
And one of its officers has warned those who carry out illegal hunts that they will be arrested if they are identified.
Northumbria Police Sergeant Mick Aspey said: “This heartless shooting has understandably led to outrage in the community and on social media.
“Larry was a loving, harmless animal that has been gunned down by suspected poachers.
“It has been reported to us that those responsible may have mistaken Larry for a deer, but even so it is illegal to hunt animals in this way.
“We know that poaching can be a problem in our rural communities and I want to reassure people that we take it seriously.
“It is a criminal offence and, where possible, we will always look to identify offenders and put them before the courts.
“Inquiries into this incident are ongoing and I would ask anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area of the sanctuary to get in touch.”
Anyone who has information that may assist police with this incident should call 101 – quoting reference 915 26/02/19 – or report the details online at www.northumbria.police.uk