Occult symbols have been painted on a killed sheep and on the door of a church in a spate of attacks in the New Forest which are believed to be linked.
A sheep and two cows have been attacked as well as well as Satanic symbols painted on the door of St Peter’s Church in Bramshaw, Hampshire.
In the first incident, a dead ewe which had suffered a puncture wound to its side was found in Penn Common Road, Bramshaw, on November 19.
A local resident, who does not wish to be named, found the sheep with a pentagram painted on its side, a star on its face as well as an inverted cross and the number 666 which is linked to the devil.
She told PA: “It’s sickening, I was genuinely shocked to find something like that in the forest, I couldn’t believe it.
“Why would somebody do this to a sheep, the poor thing. There are some strange people around.”
A Hampshire Police spokesman said that a heifer and two calves have also been found with wounds in the Bramshaw and Linwood areas.
And on November 20 the graffiti of an inverted cross and the number 666 was found on the church door.
Rev David Bacon, vicar of Bramshaw, said: “The church door has been cleaned and needed redecorating but that’s just a pain.
“The attacks on the animals have left people quite disturbed and scared, particularly people who have animals in the forest.
“We have had very very minor incidents in the past, little bits of graffiti, it doesn’t happen very often, nothing like this.”
Sergeant Andy Williams, of Hampshire Police, said: “These incidents are unusual in the New Forest.
“We are looking at the circumstances of each one to see if they are linked, and to see how these animals came to be injured.”
Tony Hockley, chairman of the Commoners Defence Association (CDA) which represents those who keep animals in the New Forest, said: “Any harm to Commoners’ animals is a huge concern.
“Commoning in the New Forest is a voluntary activity and many do it around our day jobs so any attack on any animal is a huge deterrent to continuing allowing animals to graze in the New Forest so anything like this is extremely worrying for the future of the New Forest.”
Mr Hockley said he was not aware of a history of occult incidents in the area but added: “The New Forest, like many rural areas, has a historical association with witchcraft so that draws some people and some of the local shops trade on that but it’s normally more about fairies.”