'Occult' attacks on New Forest cattle and sheep

image captionThe sheep were grazing in fields near Bramshaw

A number of sheep and cattle have been killed and injured in a spate of apparently occult-inspired attacks on animals in the New Forest in Hampshire.

The attacks are believed to have taken place between 16 and 20 November. Three cattle were found with stab wounds at Linwood and two sheep were fatally slashed and marked at Bramshaw.

Satanic symbols were also found daubed on Bramshaw Church.

The Commoners Defence Association (CDA) described the attacks as "devastating".

This story contains graphic images of animals below

Bramshaw resident Judy Rudd saw the dead sheep sprayed with symbols.

She said: "It was intended to cause upset. It's very bothering to have someone out there with a knife and prepared to use it."

The owner of one of the injured cattle, who did not want to be named, said she was "very concerned".

"I went out in the morning to let them in... and I've seen this abrasion on the animal, on the side of the neck."

image captionSymbols painted on the church door were quickly removed

An inverted cross and the number 666 were painted on the door of the part-12th Century St Peter's Church in Bramshaw.

Vicar Rev David Bacon said: "I've been told one of the symbols was a 666 which of course is a biblical sign of the devil, or Satan, so it could have [sinister overtones].

"The only security we have is people's eyes and ears."

About 800 New Forest properties and their inhabitants have common rights dating back to the 13th Century which gives them rights to graze their animals in the open forest.

image captionThe sheep were fatally slashed and sprayed with a pentagon symbol
image copyrightOther
image captionThe sheep were found sprayed with a star symbol sprayed on them

CDA chairman Tony Hockley said: "Any harm done to Commoners' animals is devastating.

"Things like this will deter people from carrying on the tradition of grazing animals on the forest and that hurts everyone."

Hampshire police said it was investigating whether a series of "suspicious incidents involving animals" were linked, and urged anyone who used the forest to be vigilant.

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