Twenty cows and calves have died in north Kerry from suspected lead poisoning.
Gardaí are seeking public assistance after it emerged that the animals ingested the lead from dumped and broken car batteries.
The disused batteries had been either thrown or dumped deliberately into a roadside field near Tarbert where the herd was grazing.
Garda said they are keeping an open mind on the matter. The batteries, gardaí said, may simply have been thrown in to the field in a manner of discarding rubbish.
However, they are also examining the possibility of a more sinister or deliberate act in which a farmer’s cattle had been deliberately targeted.
Inspector Pat O’Connell of Listowel Garda Station said gardaí would like to hear from the public, in particular if anyone saw the broken-up batteries being thrown into the field.
The cattle deaths commenced within the past week or so, between Wednesday week last and the bank holiday weekend. Almost half of the cattle in the field during that period died.
Veterinary practitioners visited the scene and samples from the dead animals have been sent for laboratory analysis.
Fourteen of the animals died initially, followed by a further six in the days since Sunday.
The cattle and the calves are believed to have licked the discarded batteries and contracted the lead which is almost always fatal to cattle, gardaí suspect.
Cattle who die from lead poisoning suffer terribly.
Officers in Listowel, at 068 50827, are appealing for information.
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