One Third of Scotland's Sheep May Freeze to Death

freezing sheep cold snap photo
One Million Sheep May Freeze
You've almost certainly heard about the cold snap that sweeping both the US and Northern Eurasia (while it's uncharacteristically warm in other parts of the world)--record cold temperatures are being set, and many tragedies are unfolding. In Scotland, the victims are the sheep: one million of them, a whole one third of Scotland's sheep, may freeze to death during the current cold spell. Scottish farmers are afraid that up to a million sheep (out of Scotland's 2.8 million total) are freezing and starving to death, the Guardian reports. They've been left vulnerable on the hillsides during weeks of unexpected subzero temperatures--and the conditions are only expected to get much worse over the weekend. The severe cold could last as long as another week.

According to the Guardian,

Nigel Miller, vice-president of NFU Scotland and a former vet, said that sheep farms were facing a crisis ... The greatest fear is that winds could start blowing the deep snow into drifts, burying and smothering flocks. Many could also begin to dehydrate through a lack of drinking water. "That's the real scare: if it really begins to blow around, these sheep will be in real trouble," he said.
The deep snow is preventing the sheep from grazing, and the heavy winds are trapping sheep in walls of snow. Experts say the sheep are on a veritable 'knife's edge' and that their survival hangs in the balance--and that many likely won't make it out. They say that among the biggest challenges are getting feed and water to the animals. And it's been brutally cold to be sure. Check out this depiction of the weather in the same report:
In the worst-affected areas of northern Scotland, the snow - which has been falling for up to three weeks and is reported to be 1.2m (4ft) deep in places - has brought down the roofs of barns, cow byres and garages, killing cattle and damaging vehicles.
Sounds rough out there. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the sheep.

For more in-depth info on the current cold snap, check out this report from the AP and the UK Met Office.

Tags: Animals | Conservation

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