A Harvey farmer was shocked and distressed to find 34 of his prime friesian steers dead at various locations on his Sandalwood Road property last week.
The cattle, valued at more than $20,000, were found in grotesque positions — indicating they had died in pain.
The farmer, who did not want to be named, said a trespasser had entered his property and left without closing the gate.
“The cattle have then strayed into the bush outside the farm,’’ the farmer said.
“When they returned to the farm, they were overcome by poison.
“Bushland in our hills areas is rife with the deadly heart leaf plant.
“The cattle were poisoned after eating the lush green leaves of this native shrub, which is prevalent in the South West.
“We are devastated at the loss of so many of our best cattle.”
The farmer said it should serve as a warning to other farmers that heart leaf was everywhere in the hills and was a danger to all stock, including horses, if they strayed outside paddocks.
He also made a plea to all people who entered farming properties to leave all farm gates as they found them.
The incident has been reported to the police.