Dartmoor pony 'mutilated and killed in ritual'

The body of a pony has been found "mutilated and possibly arranged in a ritualistic way" on Dartmoor.

The animal, which was believed to be about two months-old, was surrounded by patches of burnt moorland, a Devon and Cornwall Police spokeswoman said.

The colt also had traces of white paint on one of its legs and appeared to have been involved in "some sort of ritual", police said.

The discovery was made at Yennadon Down near Dousland on Tuesday evening.

'Nasty and distressing'

But it is believed the foal had died about 24 hours before it was found.

Insp Andy Oliver, of Devon and Cornwall Police, said it was an "unusual, nasty and distressing" find.

"In the last 12 months there have been at least three similar incidents in the force area," he said.

The person who found the pony called the police because there were no obvious signs it had been attacked by another animal.

Insp Oliver said his officers would be speaking to "experts in the field as it was not in the normal remit".

Rob Steemson, of Dartmoor National Park, said: "Who knows what's going on up here, especially when there is a full moon?

"There are less people around at night, and we are appealing to people to keep their eyes open and to report anything suspicious."

Devon and Cornwall Police said there had been three other reports of similar attacks on horses or ponies in the last 12 months in the force area.

It added that officers were working with the RSPCA, the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society and South West Equine Protection in the investigation.

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