By Richard Ashmore
A fearsome wild dog dubbed HANNIBAL LECTOR because it ripped out only the kidneys from sheep which were still alive has finally been caught and killed after a six-year reign of terror.
Australian farmers and their livestock lived in fear of the prowling predator which achieved legendary status around Scone, in New South Wales, as it attacked and mutilated thousands of sheep.
The animals lucky enough to survive often died slow painful deaths because their kidneys had been removed by the dog, which is thought to have appeared around 2011.
Attempts to catch the dog described as ‘Hannibal Lector’ by authorities saw thousands of dollars spent with aerial searches, baiting and trail camera traps.
But now trapper Jonathan Randle told the Singleton News he had shot and killed the animal which had tormented in particular local farmer Norm Black, 80, whose 2,100-acre property had been the main target for the dog.
It will now be taxidermied for a full body mount and its DNA will be examined.
Norm told the local paper: “In 2011, I lost 120 60 kilogram wethers thanks to this dog and no matter what we did we couldn’t catch him.
“He was so cunning and was always a loner never once did we see him with another dog.
“And he really just stayed on our property mainly on the land I lease from Forestry Corporation – even if he went through other farms he didn’t seem to attack their sheep, only mine and always the older ones.
“I am just so happy I can’t thank Jonathan enough for all his work, this dog had made my life a living hell.”
Hunter Local Land Services senior biosecurity officer Richard Ali described the dog as a Hannibal Lecter, referring to the serial killer character made famous in the 1991 Silence of the Lambs movie.
In the film the serial cannibal character – played by Sir Anthony Hopkins – famously says ‘A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti’.
He said: “He was one horrible piece of work. He was a big, strong, wild dog capable of getting the bigger sheep down and surgically removing their kidneys, only their kidneys and then letting them go and the sheep would run off and eventually bleed to death.
“But it took hours for the sheep to die. This is not normally how dogs kill and attack sheep.”
Jonathan Randle said he got the dog in the morning this week. He believes intense bush fires and heat in the area might have disorientated the animal making it easier to track down.
He said: “It’s the emotional side of seeing your sheep die this way which is even worse than the financial loss. I am really happy I got the dog this morning because he was absolutely tormenting the Blacks
“You could say I got lucky but I have been watching and tracking him for years so I knew his routines and that’s how I got him.