A SOUTH Lakes farmer was left in shock after his sheep were hounded into quicksand by a dog and died while unable to move.

Sixteen animals - as well as the lambs they were carrying - belonging to Wyke Farm were found to have perished at Humphrey Head, near Grange, on Monday morning.

Peter Wilson said his sheep had died in a 'horrendous' manner - either from exposure or drowning when the tide came in.

"You know you can't move because you're stuck," he said.

"You're just waiting to die, aren't you.

"You couldn't think of anything worse really."

Mr Wilson was first notified of the situation on the marshes at Humphrey Head by a friend.

He went to inspect and found 22 of his animals huddled together in quicksand, 15 of them dead. Another one, also dead, was found further away.

He felt 'almost certain' a dog had been responsible for the sheep becoming trapped.

"It's obvious that they have been rounded up into a heap," he said.

"If they'd just been walking along, they'd be in a line.

"From time to time, a sheep will wander to have a drink, but they wouldn't all go at the same time to have a drink.

"We do get an odd one that wanders off from the others and gets stuck, but not 22."

He said the monetary value of the loss - taking into account the fact that the dead sheep were in-lamb - could be as high as £5,000.

After the discovery, members of Wyke Farm got to work extricating the seven surviving sheep from the sand. Two of the animals are currently unable to walk, although Mr Wilson, 50, is hopeful they will recover.

He urged pet owners to be responsible and keep their animals on leads.

"More people seem to be walking dogs and letting them off, especially in that area where the sheep were stuck," he said.

"There's a sign on the foreshore that says dogs must be kept on a lead.

"I have been trying to think what more can be done - if you have good signs up, what's the other option?"