NAPA (CBS SF) — Grazing sheep that were found dead or that disappeared in a Napa County vineyard Friday likely were killed by mountain lions, the vineyard property owner said Thursday.

Tom Meadowcroft said an animal control officer found eaten and half-eaten sheep remains Wednesday in a ravine about 200 to 300 feet from where the Babydoll Southdown sheep were grazing on a ridge on his property on Mount Veeder Road.

The mountain lions also buried and partially buried some of the sheep remains, Meadowcroft said.

Three sheep with blood on their necks were found dead on the property and at least six others were missing, Meadowcroft said.

Sheep breeder George Richmond, who supplied the sheep to help Meadowcroft maintain his vineyard, and Meadowcroft said they previously believed the dead sheep were shot and the missing sheep were stolen.

Richmond buried the three dead sheep, Meadowcroft said.

Napa County sheriff’s Capt. Tracey Stuart said a wildlife specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not an animal control officer, examined the sheep remains on Meadowcroft’s property Wednesday and concluded mountain lions killed the sheep.

Stuart said the sheriff’s office also exhumed one of the sheep that Richmond buried. A veterinarian at the University of California, Davis concluded that the sheep had been killed by an animal, Stuart said.

“We’re all relieved. It’s nature’s cycle,” Meadowcroft said.

“The conclusion is the mountain lions got into a frenzy and killed more than they could eat. I’ve seen this happen in chicken coops,” Meadowcroft said.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

  1. phongpei says:

    I sense a little insurance fraud…….

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