THIRTEEN STOLEN sheep have been found wandering in Kilwinning, Ayrshire.

North Ayrshire Council said it was alerted to the abandoned animals by a member of the public who discovered them on one of the town's roads.

It has been claimed that the sheep found had been stolen from farms all over Scotland, but it is yet unknown by whom, or why they were subsequently dumped.

Senior manager of protective services at North Ayrshire Council, Scott McKenzie, said: “We have so far made contact with one farmer, who owns two of the sheep, and he confirmed that the sheep had been rustled. Further enquiries, in conjunction with our colleagues at Police Scotland, will be required to establish the sequence of events leading up to the discovery of the sheep.

“For their safety, the animals were moved to a secure yard on a former farm steading, where the owner of the property cared for them until Trading Standards were able to make more appropriate care provision – Trading Standards made an arrangement with Hessilhead Wildlife Rescue Trust, Gateside, Beith, to take care of these animals," said Mr McKenzie.

“This has allowed Trading Standards officers to concentrate their efforts on identifying the owners of each animal and making arrangements for their safe return. In any event, because of the assistance of Hessilhead, we expect the sheep to be returned to their home farms. Trading Standards are very grateful to both members of the public and to Hessilhead for helping to ensure the animals’ welfare and safety.”