Fears that Iberian Lynx could be behind the bloody massacre of 100 sheep in Tomar have for now been allayed by experts at the ICNF (nature conservation institute) – but locals are still concerned.
According to reports in the Portuguese press, people are scared to go out at night, as no-one knows what kind of animal is behind the attacks.
According to the ICNF, it is most likely to be some kind of dog. But this explanation has failed to convince people aware of the details.
Parish council president Luís Antunes told Lusa that no dog could have scaled the fences protecting the sheep, and that there have been no reports of any wolves in the area.
The possibility that lynx released into the wild could be responsible came after a lynx was found run-over on the nearby A23.
With the ICNF saying the injuries sustained by the slaughtered sheep were out of character for a lynx attack, locals are now worried they could be dealing with something a great deal more sinister.
“There’s the concern that it could be a ferocious animal that was being kept by someone and which has now escaped,” explained Antunes.
Some of the attacks have taken place inside villages, “between houses, in places with street lighting”, and “there are places that have had more than one attack” over a generalised radius of around seven kilometres.
“This has made people frightened to walk the streets at night,” he stressed.
For the time being, SEPNA (the GNR’s environmental arm) and ICNF are trying to pinpoint what is responsible for the attacks.
The killing method of Iberian lynx involves asphyxiating prey by attacking throat areas, experts have explained, whereas the sheep in Tomar were all savagely killed with “multiple fractures” particularly to the bones of their skulls.
ICNF officials have said if the animal/s behind the deaths were not dogs, they will have been “large beasts”.